What is Google Play’s new payment policy and why are app developers upset

What is Google Play’s new payment policy and why are app developers upset
Photo Credit: Reuters
30 Sep, 2020

The digital industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has called for a meeting of its founding members to address concerns around the perceived dominance of Google Play’s billing system. 

In a blog published on Monday related to updates on Android and Play policies, Google said that apps on Google Play which offer in-app purchase of digital goods will be required to use Google Play’s billing system. 

How does the billing system benefit Google?

The move will help Google shore up its revenues and prevent apps from directing users to payment links and gateways outside Google Play which charge less fee and commissions

Who does it apply to?

  • Developers charging for apps and downloads on Google Play must use the billing system as method of payment
  • In-app purchases including digital goods such as virtual currencies, extra lives etc on games, subscription services such as fitness, education, ad-free versions of app and purchase of cloud services and software
  • Businesses which have had to move their classes or events online due to the pandemic need not comply for the next 12 months
  • By extension it does not apply to purchase of physical goods and services, remittances and peer to peer transactions

What is bothering app developers?

  • Google has a revenue share system with the apps on Play Store where it charges a 30% ‘service fee’ on all transactions through its billing system, as compared to other payment gateways
  • According to IAMAI, Google billing system can potentially pick and choose payment instruments it wants even as it awaits licensing in India

What is the timeline?

  • Existing developers who need to update their apps have time until September 30, 2021 to comply
  • New apps submitted after January 20, 2021 will need to be in compliance

What does Google say?

  • That it has always maintained this as part of its payments policy
  • That 97% of apps on Play which sold digital goods over last year already use Google Play’s billing