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Indian Startups Approach Court To Suspend Google's New In-App Billing Fee System: Report According to the report, Paytm, BharatMatrimony, and ShareChat are some of the startups that are likely to file grievances against the tech major for alleged non-compliance with the CCI's cease-and-desist order on Play Store policies

By Teena Jose

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A group of Indian startups has asked a court to suspend Alphabet Inc Google's new in-app billing fee system until the country's antitrust body investigates the US firm for alleged non-compliance with its directives, according to a Reuters report. This comes days after the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) granted partial relief to the tech giant, reversing 4 of the 10 key non-monetary directives that would have persuaded Google to allow uninstalling of its pre-installed apps on Android devices.

According to the report, Paytm, BharatMatrimony, and ShareChat are some of the startups that are likely to file grievances against the tech major for alleged non-compliance with the Competition Commission of India's (CCI's) cease-and-desist order on Play Store policies.

"Google's policy change of charging service fee even on transactions processed by third-party payment processors ... has detrimental consequences for users and app developers," the 15-page confidential March complaint by The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) reportedly said.

In its April 10 filing at the Delhi High Court, ADIF argues that the antitrust body is yet to hear its complaint promptly even as Google's April 26 implementation date of the so-called User Choice Billing system (UCB) is nearing. The 744-page filing, seen by Reuters, asks the court to "keep the implementation of Google's UCB in abeyance" until CCI hears the complaint.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in October imposed a $113 million fine on Google and said it must allow the use of third-party billing and stop forcing developers to use its in-app payment system that charges commission of 15%-30%. Google has denied any wrongdoing and challenged the antitrust ruling. The new service fee system, it says, supports investments in Google Play app store and the Android mobile operating system, ensuring it distributes it for free, and covers developer tools and analytic services.

The revised policies of Play Store will allow app developers to offer users' choice billing systems to users along with Google Play Billing System (GPBS) within India from April 26. However, the app store will charge a service fee on such transactions, which is 4% less than the 15-30% fees charged on payments through GPBS. Therefore, the service fees on payments made through an alternative billing system stands at 11% for the first $1 million earned by the developer in revenue each year and 26% for earnings above it, the report noted.

The startups find these charges are "exorbitant" and make any alternative billing apart from GPBS economically unattractive. As a result, they may likely approach Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar to look into the matter.

According to Google, GPBS is a service that enables the sale of digital products and content in Android apps. Google Play's billing system can be used to sell a one-time product or subscriptions on a recurring basis. "We always strive to work with our developer community to help keep their apps on Play while they make any needed changes. While most developers have already complied with this long-standing policy, we gave a one year grace period for any that needed to make changes to their apps. Developers with users in India and South Korea now have the option to integrate an alternative in-app billing system," the website shows.

Teena Jose

News Desk Reporter with Entrepreneur India

Teena is a post graduate in financial journalism. She has an avid interest in content creation, digital media and fashion.
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