Match Group, Indian startups urge CCI to investigate Google’s in-app billing fee

Dating app giant Match Group and Indian startups have urged the Competition Commission of India to launch an investigation into Google for allegedly not complying with a recent antitrust order by imposing a high service fee on developers for in-app payments, as reported by Reuters.

In October 2022, the CCI fined the tech giant $161 million for abusing its power in the Android ecosystem, and ordered it to ease its requirements for device manufacturers regarding pre-installed apps. The same month, the regulator imposed another fine of $113 million on the company, saying it must allow developers to use third party payment options.

Although Google said the order would stall its growth in the country and tried to challenge the decision, it eventually lost its legal fight after being rejected by the Supreme Court, and began rolling out changes to its business in the country by allowing OEMS to “license individual Google apps for pre-installation”, and mobile users to choose their preferred search engine. 

It also launched its ‘’User Choice Billing’’ program in India, which enables developers to offer an alternative payment system along with that of Google, and reduces the controversial service fee for them by 4%.

According to recent filings reviewed by Reuters, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), which represents many Indian startups including Google-backed ShareChat and Paytm, said that  “Google’s policy change of a charging service fee even on transactions processed by third-party payment processors … has detrimental consequences for users and app developers’’.

The app developers will have to pay 1%-3% for alternate payment service providers and 11%-26% to Google, which makes the entire ecosystem unsustainable,” ADIF added. “The policy of UCB is unfair and the same would lead to unjust enrichment to Google.

Tinder-maker Match Group, meanwhile, sued Google over its Play Store billing policies in May last year, but reached a temporary deal with the company around two weeks after that. However, the dust doesn’t seem to have settled yet.

In its March 21 filing, the company asked the regulators to order Google not to impose any service fee or commission, even through the user choice billing system, which it said was ‘’anti-competitive’’.

Last month, Fortnite-maker Epic Games also filed an appeal in an Indian tribunal, accusing Google of not complying with the antitrust order by not allowing third party app stores on its Play Store, where it plans to launch its Epic Games Store. 

Although Epic Games Store saw $820 million in player spending last year, it currently offers PC games only.

Written by Tuna Cetin

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