Google ‘unfairly’ blocked rival payments, Indian antitrust regulator says

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) released the first findings of an investigation into Google’s app store and payment system Google Pay on Friday. As Bloomberg reported, it found that the Google Play Store billing system for app developers is “unfair and discriminatory”.

In 2020, Google decided to postpone the enforcement of the 30% commission for app developers in India after protests from the startup community in the country. The tech giant agreed to postpone the policy until this month. But in the meantime, Indian developers lobbied the country’s government to prevent Google from introducing what they believed to be an unreasonably high fee. Developers also felt that since Android phones come preloaded with the Play Store, it gave Google an unfair advantage over competing payment systems.

Of particular concern in India is whether Google Pay will undermine competitor United Payments Interface (or UPI) apps, which allow users to debit payments directly from their bank accounts using only a virtual address. UPI payment apps such as Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm are currently the most popular way for Indians to pay online. Critics have argued that Google’s control of the Play Store and Android operating system gives it an unfair amount of control over India’s digital payments ecosystem.

India’s antitrust regulator reiterated similar concerns about Google Pay. “Google’s behavior will also result in a denial of market access to competing UPI apps, as the market for UPI-enabled digital payment apps is multifaceted, and the network effects will lead to a situation where Google Pay’s competitors will be completely driven out of the market. excluded. long-term,” CCI wrote in documents reviewed by Bloomberg.

India’s antitrust agency has yet to complete its investigation into Google. Following the conclusion, the tech giant could be forced to pay fines or change its policies.

The search giant has come under fire in India, both for its developer fees and the potential threat Google Pay poses to domestic payment platforms. Last year, Google announced that all Play Store developers should integrate with Google’s payment system by October 2022.

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