Match Group sues Google over Google Play billing rules

Match Group Inc., the parent company of dating apps Tinder, OkCupid, and Match, sued Google on Monday, alleging that the company is acting as a monopolist with its Google Play billing rules.

Match’s lawsuit follows ongoing lawsuits, originally filed in 2020 by Epic Games, dozens of US attorneys general and others to target Google and Apple for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive behavior in their app stores.

Match Group alleged that Google broke federal and state laws and abused its power by requiring app developers to use its own billing system on Android devices.

“Ten years ago, Match Group was Google’s partner. We are now its hostage,” Match Group said in a complaint filed in northern California federal court. “Google lured app developers to its platform with assurances that we could offer users a choice over how to pay for the services they want. 

But once it monopolized the market for Android app distribution with Google Play by riding the coattails of the most popular app developers, Google sought to ban alternative in-app payment processing services so it could take a cut of nearly every in-app transaction on Android.”

In March 2021, Google had announced that it would decrease the service fee for all subscription-based apps on Google Play from 30% to 15%. In March this year, the company  launched a pilot program that would 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. 

Google, at the same time, announced that it would crack down on apps circumventing its billing systems, setting a deadline of June 1. “This lawsuit is a measure of last resort,” Match Chief Executive Shar Dubey said at the light of the deadline. “We tried, in good faith, to resolve these concerns with Google, but their insistence and threats has left us no choice.”

“It’s like saying, ‘you don’t have to take the elevator to get to the 60th floor of a building, you can always scale the outside wall,'” she said.

Along with Spotify, Epic Games, Basecamp, Match Group is a member of Coalition for App Fairness, an independent nonprofit organization to ‘advocate for fair competition and freedom of choice across the app ecosystem’. 

In a statement to TechCrunch, Google dismissed the new Match lawsuit as a “self-interested campaign” to avoid paying its fair share. “… Even if they don’t want to comply with Google Play’s policies, Android’s openness still provides them multiple ways of distributing their apps to Android users, including through other Android app stores, directly to users via their website or as consumption-only apps,” a Google spokesperson said.

Written by Jordan Bevan

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