Google continues to be in the crosshairs of Indian entrepreneurs over its Play Store billing policies.
Shaadi.com founder and Shark Tank’s Anupam Mittal has likened Google to the East India Company, and hinted that it’s exploiting Indian developers. “Received a call from Google today mandating their payments for Indian developers in continued violation & disregard of Competition Commision of India’s orders & Indian laws. Neo-colonialism at its worst!” he tweeted. “Hope the media, courts, PMO India are taking note…the Digital East India Company is here,” he added.
What appears to have drawn Mittal’s ire is Google asking Indian app developers to mandatorily use their Google Play Billing System (GPBS) in territories outside India, failing which their apps will be delisted from the Google Play Store in 14 days. Last year, the Competition Commission of India had asked Google to not force app developers to use its billing system, which gave Google a 30% cut on all payments app received from customers. Google had then created something called User Choice Billing (UCB), which allowed other payment options such as UPI, wallets and others. Google, however, is reportedly charging a 11-26 percent commission on these payment methods as well.
Google is now charging Indian users under the new billing system, but continues to ask Indian developers to use the earlier billing system for customers that are located out of India. As such, any Indian app developer is still required to give away 30 percent of their earnings from their foreign users to Google.
Apart from Anupam Mittal, other entrepreneurs also hit out at Google. “Hope Competition Commission of India and PMO India to act soon,” said Truly Madly co-founder Amit Gupta. “It’s already too late for App Store Market (colonized by Google) . Now Google is trying to colonize the Digital Content Economy by sabotaging Indian laws and CCI orders,” he added.
“Terrible! Everyone needs to standup for India and Indians and stop this foreign colonial domination and destruction of the domestic economy and indigenous rights,” said MapMyIndia founder Rohan Verma.
“The courts should note this seriously. Google is forcing app developers to continue to pay upto 26% commissions even if the pay through other billing solutions. The courts have said no to this, but Google continues. India needs alternate app stores, preinstalled on phones,” said Capitalmind’s Deepak Shenoy.
This isn’t the first time that Google has been called out for the hefty cuts it charges on the Play Store. Last year, the Competition Commission of India had taken note of the 30 percent commission that it was charging developers, and had fined it Rs. 936 crore. In addition, it had asked Google to not to restrict app developers from using any third-party billing or payment processing services. Google appears to now have allowed other billing options on the Play Store, but is reportedly charging a hefty 11-26 percent commission on those payments as well. In addition, Google continues to charge Indian developers a 30 percent commission from their foreign customers.
This fee charged by Google and Apple — which has been likened to an internet tax that goes to monopolistic private companies — has drawn criticism in foreign nations as well. South Korea, for instance, has passed a law which prevents companies like Google and Apple from mandating their own payment mechanisms on apps, and thus prevented them from taking a 30 percent cut on all transactions. India’s Competition body has also introduced a similar ruling, but Google appears to be charging a commission on third-party payments as well. It remains to be seen how this battle between Indian developers and Google plays out, but India’s startup community appears to not be holding back as they battle one of the top tech comapnies in the world.