Google to take 'necessary steps' to enforce new in-app billing policy

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in October 2022 directed the company to make significant changes to its Play Store policies after it found several anti-competitive practices on the platform

Sourabh Lele New Delhi
Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

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Google India on Wednesday reacted to the ongoing conflict on service fees charged by the Play store, saying that its fees were the lowest among major app stores and less than 60 Indian app developers currently could pay a fee of above 15 per cent.
“Our service fees only apply when a developer sells digital goods or services in their app. Today, only 3% of developers in India sell digital goods or services and therefore would need to pay a service fee,” Google said in a blog post. 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in October 2022 directed the company to make significant changes to its Play Store policies after it found several anti-competitive practices on the platform. The CCI also ordered Google to allow app developers to use any third-party billing or payment processing services apart from Google Play’s Billing System (GPBS) for purchasing apps, as well as in-app purchases.
Though Google revised its policies allowing user-choice billing systems to be used by app developers, it continues to charge 11-26 per cent service fees on payments made through an alternative billing system. The updated policy has come into effect starting April 26. 

Indian app developers can choose between three options on billing systems for their in-app purchases: continue using GPBS, switch to an alternative billing system, or operate on the consumption-only model – with no option for in-app purchases or subscriptions. 
“In India, now that the deadline has passed, we are informing developers in the country who have not yet implemented one of these options that we will be taking necessary steps to ensure our policy is applied fairly. We continue to comply with local laws and cooperate with local proceedings, as applicable,” Google said. 

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Google says in compliance with CCI order, pushes ahead with in-app billing

The company has also listed a range of benefits its platforms and resources offer to app developers. This includes the largest malware scanning system in the world that analyzes over 125 billion apps daily to keep consumers safe. Google said its tools have enabled Indian app developers to reach 2.5 billion monthly active users in 190 markets. A powerful data and analytics dashboard in the Play Console helps developers to understand the audience and identify growth opportunities, it added. 
The tech giant is facing continued scrutiny of its alleged anti-competitive practices in the Android market. Some Indian startups went to the Delhi High Court alleging that the service fees were violating the CCI’s directives. Google said it was respectfully following the CCI’s October 2022 order. 

“Our investments in Android and Google Play have helped Indian developers create jobs, go to market faster, grow financially, and reach global audiences. We fund these investments in part through a service fee applied when a developer on Google Play sells in-app digital goods or services. We think it is a sensible model as the platform only makes money when a developer makes money, so our success is aligned with theirs,” Google said on Wednesday. 

First Published: May 17 2023 | 11:34 PM IST

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