Google will delay enforcement in India of a new billing policy that will force some developers to pay a 30 percent commission on in-app purchases, the company announced (via TechCrunch). The new rules are set to go in effect globally by September 2021, but after facing pushback from an alliance of app developers, Google will postpone them in India until April 2022.
Google started facing pushback over the policy after it temporarily pulled an app called Paytm for promoting gambling. The app was running a fantasy sports-type feature for the popular IPL cricket tournament, which allowed users to win money or points redeemable for physical goods. Paytm subsequently launched its own mini-app store (below) that allows other developers to sell subscriptions without any commission. So far, 300 large players like ride-hailing company Ola, Booking.com and McDonald’s have signed up.
Google pointed out that its payment system only applies to three percent of developers, and among those, most already use it. It said that its billing system “provides a simple, safe way for consumers to transact,” and includes reminders about free trials, clear price disclosures and information about cancellations and refunds.
It added that it’s willing to speak with developers to resolve any concerns. “We are setting up listening sessions with leading Indian startups to understand their concerns more deeply,” the company wrote. “And we’re also extending the time for developers in India to integrate with the Play billing system, to ensure they have enough time to implement the UPI for subscription payment option that will be made available on Google Play.”
Still, the policy delay is another front in a rebellion that’s happening against Google and Apple’s app store policies and commissions. Over the past few weeks, Apple has reacted by opening up the iOS store to game streaming (albeit in a rather limited way), while Google has made it easier for Android users to download apps via third-party stores. More changes may be in store (sorry) once a European Commission probe into Apple Pay and the App Store gets rolling.