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PlayStore’s ‘unfair’ play, digital body seeks CCI red card

Plea for tariff status quo, pending Competition probe

GBS charges 'unfair' commission of 30% against 2% by others, ADIF points out.

MUMBAI, Oct 12 (The CONNECT) – Arguing that Google’s new PlayStore policy would have “disastrous’ effect on startups, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) has moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking to restrain the global search engine from going ahead with the framework pending the ongoing CCI inquiry.

CCI Director General had in November 2020 ordered a probe into the issue of mandatory use of Google Play Store’s payment system for paid apps and in-app purchases. The commission is of the prima facie view that such a policy is unfair as it restricts the ability of app developers to select a payment processing system of their choice.

The ADIF, an alliance with more than 422 startups, however, sought interim relief from the CCI as Google’s new PlayStore policy which goes into effect from March 2022 restricting certain categories of apps to use only Google Billing System (GBS) for accepting payments.

GBS charges an extremely high and unfair commission of 30% for all transactions on the Google Play Store, compared to 2% charged by other payment processing systems. The core issue is the mandatory imposition of the Google Play Billing system and the exclusion of other methods of payment, ADIF said.

ADIF Executive Director Sijo Kuruvilla George said the Foundation foresees that barring an order passed by this Hon’ble Commission to maintain status-quo until the completion of the ongoing inquiry, Google might proceed to enforce its terms on the Play Store, thereby leading to adverse and irreversible consequences on India’s fledgling startup ecosystem.

Murugavel Janakiraman, the Founder and CEO of Matrimony.com, said: “The matter is not as much about the percentage of commission charged as it is about the anti-competitive practice of forcing a payment option as well as of forcing out other payment providers. If not kept in check, such anti-competitive policies and gatekeeper commissions will be imposed on more and more categories, causing a disastrous effect on competition and prices in India.” 

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