Startup founders meet CCI to flag Google’s antitrust practices

The group of startups reportedly comprised Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founders of BharatMatrimony, MapMyIndia, TrulyMadly and nCore Games.
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The tussle between startups in India and Google over the app store monopoly continues, with a group of startups reportedly knocking on the doors of the Competition Commission of India. A group comprising 15 startups reportedly held a meeting virtually with the CCI to complain about Google’s anti-competitive practices in the country.

There has been rising discontent against Google’s practices, which came to the fore after it announced that it will be enforcing a 30% commission on in-app purchases of digital goods. The policy, which was to be implemented in September 2021, has since been deferred till March 31, 2022.

The meeting reportedly had Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founders of BharatMatrimony, MapMyIndia, TrulyMadly and nCore Games.

According to the Economic Times, the points of contention for startups are that allowing payments only through Google Play creates a monopoly, removing real money gaming apps violates Indian law and that it removes apps from the Play Store for violations without proper notice.

“With more than 95% of India’s digital population accessing the Internet through Google, this strategy of having an OS and Play Store, together gives Google an advantage over other app stores and operating systems. Hence, we have requested them to look into this matter," one of the founders present at the meeting told Mint.

This comes after Paytm and Paytm First Games were both briefly removed from the Play Store for violating the app store’s gambling policy but was soon restored.

The meeting with the CCI also comes just one week after a group of approximately 40 startup founders met with the secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ajay Sawhney, over similar concerns.

A majority of India’s smartphones are powered by Android, but the calls against Google have only increased since Paytm was removed from the Play Store.

However, Google’s troubles with the CCI don’t end here. The antitrust watchdog has also been looking into Google violating policies in the smart TV market by creating barriers for companies wanting to use a modified version of Android. In addition to this, it also looking at Google’s dominance in smartphones, and whether it is using its market position to promote Google Pay.

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