Indian app developers move CCI against Google’s new PlayStore policy

The petition by Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) states that the new policy would have a destructive effect on the operating margins of a large number of startups.
Google PlayStore
Google PlayStore
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The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), which represents the interests of various stakeholders like startups, app developers, etc, on Monday, October 11, said it has filed a petition before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking interim relief from Google's new PlayStore billing policy which goes into effect from March next year. The CCI, which launched a probe two years ago into Google's alleged abuse of the Android Operating System (OS), is already looking into the potential abuse of dominance by Google in the app market.

The ADIF said in a statement that the interim relief has been sought on behalf of app developers as Google's new policy will restrict certain categories of apps to use only the Google Billing System (GBS) for accepting payments. This would be an issue for app developers because GBS charges a 30% commission for all transactions on the Google Play Store, compared to the 2% charged by other payment processing systems.

"ADIF foresees that barring an order passed by the CCI to maintain status-quo until the completion of the ongoing inquiry, Google shall proceed to enforce its terms on the PlayStore, thereby leading to adverse and irreversible consequences on India's fledgling startup ecosystem," said Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, Alliance of Digital India Foundation.

The petition said there is a strong case for seeking such relief as this new policy when it goes into effect next March, would have a destructive effect on the operating margins of a large number of startups and make their business models infeasible.

The CCI had, in November 2020, directed a probe by the Director-General into the issue of mandatory use of Google Play Store's payment system for paid apps and in-app purchases.

In its petition to the commission, ADIF has stated that the 30% commission charged by Google is extremely high and unfair.

"This will have a disastrous effect on India's digital ecosystem by reducing choices available in the hands of app developers and users as well as harming the country's innovation ecosystem by disrupting the cost structures and margins of multiple industries," the petition added.

Google recently went to the Delhi High Court against the leak of the CCI's confidential report pertaining to the investigation against the global search engine giant. The antitrust regulator, however, denied leaking confidential reports to the media.

Taking note of the CCI's submissions, the high court said nothing survives in the petition filed by Google against the alleged leak of confidential probe information and disposed of the plea.

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