Google Play to let apps use third-party payment options, starting with Spotify

Google announced on Wednesday the launch of a pilot program designed to explore what it calls “user choice billing.” The program will allow a small number of participating developers, starting with Spotify, to offer an additional third-party payment option in their apps alongside Google Play’s own billing system.

The pilot program is built on Google’s recent launch allowing an additional billing system alongside Google Play’s billing for users in South Korea, the company says. 

“This is a significant milestone and the first on any major app store — whether on mobile, desktop, or game consoles,” Sameer Samat, a Google vice president, said in a blog post. The executive said Google would be sharing more “in the coming months.”

Over the coming months, Spotify will work with Google’s product and engineering teams to build this new experience, and the streaming giant will roll out in countries around the world. Spotify also said its trial with Google was part of a “multi year agreement.”

Alex Norström, Chief Freemium Business Officer, commented, “Spotify is on a years-long journey to ensure app developers have the freedom to innovate and compete on a level playing field. We’re excited to be partnering with Google to explore this approach to payment choice and opportunities for developers, users, and the entire internet ecosystem. We hope the work we’ll do together blazes a path that will benefit the rest of the industry.” 

Both Google and Apple have long faced pressure from lawsuits and in Congress as they require app makers to use their payment systems. This issue has been at the heart of the long-running war by Spotify, Epic Games, and other developers against Google and Apple.

The ACM issued a ruling in December 2021 requiring Apple to allow dating apps to use third-party payment systems and Apple announced that it would comply and introduced two optional entitlements for dating app providers in the Netherlands, charging apps 27% instead of 30%. The changes did not satisfy Dutch officials. The total of all penalty payments currently stands at €45 million out of a potential maximum amount of €50 million. 

Written by Jordan Bevan

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