Google: CCI to probe Google’s app payments system: Report – Times of India

(This story originally appeared in on May 12, 2023)

Earlier this year, Tinder-owner Match Group and a few startups in India asked the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to probe Google for alleged non-compliance with an antitrust directive by charging a high service fee from developers for in-app payments. A news report has now claimed that the competition body has begun enquiry into the allegations.
According to a report by news agency Reuters, the CCI issued an order stating “it is of the opinion that an enquiry needs to be made” in Google’s new User Choice Billing (UCB) system.
The order is not public yet. The watchdog asked Google to explain certain provisions related to the in-app payment system before and after UCB. The regulator also sought details of policies related to sharing of user and app developer data.
Google needs to respond in four weeks, the order said.

What is User Choice Billing system
Google started the User Choice Billing pilot which is aimed to test an alternative billing option other than Google Play’s billing system. Under this billing system, app developers are required to pay 11%-26% commission to Google. The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) said that this makes the proposal non-compliant with CCI’s directives of “not imposing any condition (including price related condition) on app developers, which is unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory or disproportionate to the services provided.”
Google UCB pilot is live in over 35 countries including India, Australia Indonesia, Japan, the European Economic Area, the US, Brazil and South Africa.

In October, the CCI imposed a Rs 936 crore fine on Google and said that the company must allow the use of third-party billing. It also directed the company to stop forcing developers to use its in-app payment system that charges commission of up to 30%.
What Google said about service fee
Previously, Google said that the service fee supports investments in the Google Play app store and the Android mobile operating system, and covers developer tools and analytic services. Recently, a report said that Google has paid the entire Rs 1,338 crore penalty imposed on the tech giant by the regulator in a separate case related to Android.

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