Google announced on Wednesday that its Google Play’s payments policy adheres to the directive of the Indian watchdog, and the company is moving forward with its plans to implement the policy in the South Asian market. This decision comes after certain developers sought to suspend Google’s in-app billing fee system, alleging non-compliance with the watchdog’s order.
In a blog post, Google stated, “In 2020, we clarified the requirements of our Payments policy and developers in India have had considerable time to make the necessary changes to their apps. We’re respectfully following the CCI’s October 2022 order, and in compliance with that order, we expanded user choice billing to all developers in India and updated our policy that went into effect starting April 26, 2023.”
Google emphasized that the service fee it collects from developers enables it to finance the significant investments it has made to foster India’s app ecosystem. The company maintained that its fees, which amount to 15% or lower for most developers, are the lowest among major app stores. Additionally, there is a 4% reduction in fees for those who implement an alternative billing system, as this reflects the fact that Google Play’s billing system is not utilized.
According to Google’s estimations, fewer than 60 out of over 200,000 Indian developers on Google Play are subject to a service fee above 15%. In India, developers have three billing options: Google Play’s billing system, an alternative billing system in conjunction with Google Play’s, or a consumption-only payment basis without a service fee. Google will begin notifying developers about this change, as the deadline for compliance expired last month.
In October, the Competition Commission of India imposed a $113 million fine on Google and directed the company to offer developers the choice to use third-party billing systems in the country. A group representing Indian developers argued that Google’s new system still imposes a “high service fee” of 11% or more on those who do not use its payment system.
Google stated, “Most developers globally have already elected one of these routes. 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.”
This update follows a request from Tinder-owner Match and the Alliance of Digital India Foundation, a group representing Indian startups, to suspend Google’s new in-app billing fee system until the Competition Commission of India has an opportunity to assess whether Google is complying with its previous directive. Last week, the Competition Commission of India confirmed that it had initiated an inquiry.