Apple overpays Chinese developers by 7 times due to Deutsche Bank ‘issue’

2 min read
The outside of an Apple store in Shanghai on March 27, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

Apple mistakenly transferred payouts totaling around seven times what was due to some of its Chinese app developers as a result of a recent issue experienced by its partner, Deutsche Bank, according to a screenshot of an email sent by the iPhone maker circulating on microblogging platform Weibo.

News of the error began appearing on social media Wednesday, with several Chinese developers posting that their July earnings from Apple’s App Store were paid out at significantly higher rates, multiplied by a factor of around seven times.

Why it matters: As of June, the number of Chinese developers for Apple’s App Store has topped 2.2 million and global sales exceeded RMB 200 billion since the product’s launch in 2010, according to the Xinhua News Agency, citing Isabel Ge Mahe, Apple’s vice president and managing director of Greater China.

  • Some developers speculated that Apple may have mistakenly paid in US dollars instead of Chinese yuan without converting the currency. The US dollar and the Chinese yuan exchange rate was 1.00 to 7.15 on Thursday.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request from TechNode on Thursday.

Details: Apple said in the email posted to Weibo that Deutsche Bank is reprocessing a payment of the developer’s July earnings, which may result in two sets of payments being paid, one of which was issued in error.

  • Zou Zhenlu, the developer of an SMS spam-blocking app called “Xiongmao Chi Duanxin,” or “Panda Eats Messages” (our translation), confirmed to TechNode that he had received an SMS on Wednesday morning alerting him that the payment was received. He saw that the amount was several times higher than what he was expecting.
  •  The developer of a goal-tracking app called “My Goals,” Zhang Zhong, told TechNode that he also received an inflated July payment from Apple, and he went to the bank and refunded the first payment on Thursday after receiving the email.
  • “If this is the case, your bank will contact you to approve a return of the incorrectly issued payment. We appreciate your assistance in correcting this issue by approving your bank’s request and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” the email said.
  • It’s unknown how many developers’ payouts were affected by the issue and whether developers outside China were involved.

“I thought [the higher payment] was because sales of my app surged, so I logged into my developer’s console where I found the amount of US dollars I received was exactly the same as the amount of RMB I should receive. I talked to some of my developer friends and found that many of them have received seven times their payment amount, not just me.”

—Zou Zhenlu, app developer (our translation)

Context: The payments to developers are generated from app sales, in-app purchases, subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising after taking a 30% commission.