Google Finally Lets App Developers Offer Third-Party Billing Options
As the US, and governments around the world ready anti-trust lawsuits against tech giants, we are starting to see some instances of self correction from these companies.
A while back, Google had announced that they would allow “non-gaming apps” to have a seperate billing option, as long as the Play Store option was offered alongside it. Now, Google is finally letting these app developers, sign up for the ‘User Choice Billing’ pilot.
As of now, the pilot is limited to developers in the following countries ~ Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, India, Australia, Indonesia, and Japan.
The developers should also follow a few other requirements to be eligible for the program.
- Only offer alternative billing systems within the app.
- Comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) (if handling credit and debit card data).
- Provide customer support for users of the alternative billing system (including any products sold using the alternative billing system), and the alternative billing system must provide a process to dispute unauthorized transactions.
- Notify us in advance of intended changes to your app enrollment preferences, such as disabling or enabling user choice billing in a particular app or country. Changes will be effective the first of the following month (visit the Frequently asked questions section below for more details on submitting changes).
When using the Play Store payment options, developers have to pay a 15 to 30 percent cut to Google. Obviously, that fee wouldn’t be applicable when using third-party billing options, but Google would still charge a 4% service fee.
Interestingly, the US, which is inarguably the biggest consumer market, doesn’t feature in the list of countries for the pilot. Moreover, most of the countries in the ‘User Choice Billing’ pilot have already investigated Google’s Play Store policy for in-app payments at some point.
For example, just this year the Indian Competition Commision investigated Google’s billing system, and termed it as ‘unfair and discriminatory’. Even the Japanese Fair Trade Commission joined hands with the United States and Europe to investigate these unfair billing practices by the Silicon Valley tech giants.