In a win for Indian app developers, Google has extended its third-party billing system to the Indian market. This will allow non-gaming app developers to offer an alternative choice to users for billing besides Google Pay. Google has extended the pilot for this to India and four other markets — Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and the European Economic Area.

All non-gaming developers globally can sign up to participate in the pilot and offer this choice to their mobile and tablet users in these markets. Users will continue to have the choice to use Play’s billing system. Google also mentioned that a reasonable service fee will continue to apply in order to support investments in Android and Play. However, the company did not disclose the amount of fee it will charge.

At present Google charges anywhere between 14-30 per cent commission fee across the globe to allow app developers to use the Google Pay billing system.

Facing heat

Google is facing scrutiny for its app store payment structure by the Competition Commission of India. Globally, Google and Apple have been facing regulatory heat due to their appstore payment structure.

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent, and Apple Inc. have come under pressure from regulators globally who accuse the mobile giants of forcing developers to use their payment systems and then taking an outsized cut of the revenue. In South Korea, Google was forced to provide an alternative billing system after regulatory action.

In July, a US federal court mandated Google to pay $90 million in settlement to app developers in a class action lawsuit through its Google Play billing system with a default service fee of 30 per cent (This commission was halved by Google last year).

With Google’s Friday announcement, Google claims its Play is the first and only major app store to pilot user-choice billing. No major app store, whether on mobile, desktop, or gaming console, has taken similar steps toward providing greater payment choices and opportunities to developers, users, and the entire internet ecosystem.

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