Google India faces fresh antitrust charges from CCI over market abuse, Google Pay promotion

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Google is facing another antitrust check on its dominance on Android, the Google Pay payments app, and the 30% cut on Play Store apps. After the United States, India is chasing the tech giant with the new survey launched by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). In this case, the government agency said Google is using its market power to charge the 30% commission, giving competitors in India fewer chances. One of the aspects of this case is mainly against Google Pay and its omnipresence in the Android ecosystem.

The first case of the antitrust case emerged in May, when CCI ruled against Google for anti-competitive promotion of its payments app. But the new survey goes beyond Google Pay. The antitrust watchdog has made several inquiries regarding Google Play’s in-app purchase system, market abuse and the “take it or leave it” condition for developers if they wish to operate within the Play Store ecosystem on Android devices in India. This is a final case of Google’s 30% cut that first sparked a conflict between Google and many developers, including the Fortnite producer Epic Games, in the US.

In India, Paytm and over 150 other developers have denounced Google’s mandate forcing them to pay a 30% commission on all purchases made using the Play Store’s billing system last month. In the event that a developer refuses to comply, Google removes the app associated with the developer from the Play Store. In fact, Google had already stated that a large fraction of developers already abide by the rules. Google had set a September 2021 deadline for enforcing the Play Store billing policy, but postponed it to April 2022 for Indian developers who have yet to come to terms with the policy.

CCI is launching an investigation into the Google rule that all developers will have to comply with over a year later. “… Google has imposed an unfair condition on both sides of the platform, namely the app providers and the users. The condition imposed by Google is unfair to the app providers as it limits their choice in terms of partners to Preferred Payment and Preferred Payment Methods. The condition imposed by Google is unfair to users as their choice of payment method has been limited, “said Depository (via MediaNama).

Another aspect is that Google is collecting data on competing apps that are available to users as part of the Play Store. The investigation said Google is keeping an eye on its rivals for downstream services, such as music streaming and ebooks, and is using the data to improvise its own services. That 30 percent cut also plays a role here. Services from rival platforms are charged competitively while Google can reduce rival services by using free trials and discounts.

This aspect also applies to the Google Pay payments app that comes preloaded on Android smartphones. According to the India Competition Commission filing, this move leaves no choice but to accept Google’s terms and conditions. The biggest allegation here is that Google is promoting its Google Pay to the top of the results for a paid-related search term. The first result is never Paytm or PhonePe. It is also assumed that Google has “rigged” the “User choice” and “Editor’s choice” sections for the payment apps category on the Play Store.

The filing sued Google disproving some of the allegations. CCI noted that Google said Google Pay installations on Android devices are part of separate agreements. He also dismissed that Android is not “dominant” in India and that it faces “significant competition” from feature phone operating systems, such as KaiOS available on JioPhone, a popular device in its segment. The survey also includes these claims made by Google.

Google did not answer questions at the time of publication.

The Competition Commission of India has launched an investigation against Google on multiple aspects, including the invariable promotion of the Google Pay app in India.

News Underline:

  • The Indian Competition Commission has launched an antitrust investigation against Google.
  • Google is alleged to have abused its domain in the marketplace to promote Google Pay.
  • The deposit also puts Google in check for the Play Store’s 30% fee.

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