A group of Indian app developers and start-ups, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), on Monday filed a petition before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Google’s new billing policy which is expected to come into effect in March 2022.
ADIF has challenged Google’s new policy of imposing proprietary in-house payment processing systems on all developers and thereby compulsorily charging a 30 percent commission on all revenues earned. In a statement, ADIF termed the commission as an app market “lagaan” or app market tax and said:
While the commission itself is high and onerous, the root of the issue is Google and Apple leveraging their dominance to force out other payment service providers from the app economy and denying the choice of payment provider to developers – making it an anti-competitive practice and ergo an antitrust challenge.
The CCI recently published the results of a two-year investigation into allegations of Google’s alleged abuse of its dominant position which found that the tech giant has been imposing and forcing one-sided contracts on Android devices as well as app makers to ensure that its own products and apps maintain primacy in consumer usage.
Since the CCI’s investigation is still underway, ADIF has asked for interim relief maintaining the status quo to prevent “adverse irreversible consequences on India’s fledgling startup ecosystem.” If granted, the interim relief will prevent Google from enforcing the new policy in March 2022 before the regulatory authority declares a final verdict.
The controversy is not limited to India. Recently, legislators in South Korea banned app store operators from mandating developers to use their payment systems. In the Netherlands, the antitrust regulator found that similar policies by Apple to be anticompetitive.