Facebook has temporarily shamed Apple out of taking a 30 percent cut of paid online events organized by small businesses and hosted on Facebook—things like cooking classes, workout sessions, and happy hours. Demand for these kinds of online events has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple says that it has a longstanding policy that digital products must be purchased using Apple's in-app payments system—and hence pay Apple's 30 percent tax. In contrast, companies selling physical goods and services are not only allowed but required to use other payment methods (options here include Apple Pay, which doesn't take such a big cut).
For example, an in-person cooking class is not a digital product, so a business selling cooking class tickets via an iPhone app wouldn't have to give Apple a 30 percent cut. But if the same business offers a virtual cooking class, Apple considers that to be a digital product and demands a 30 percent cut—at least if the customer pays for the class using an iOS device.
Last month, Facebook announced it would start offering a new feature for small businesses to host paid online events. Facebook has waived any fees for the first year, allowing small businesses to pocket 100 percent of the revenue. But Apple refused to budge on its 30 percent take.