In response to an antitrust intervention by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Google has put forward a proposal that would grant developers offering apps through its UK Play mobile app store the freedom to utilise alternative payment processors for in-app transactions. This would provide an alternative to the company’s proprietary billing system, which currently serves as the sole option.
What are the changes?
According to an enforcement update by the regulator, Google’s proposed commitments would allow app developers to exercise greater autonomy in selecting their preferred billing system, either through a “Developer-only Billing” (DOB) option or by presenting users with a choice between alternative billing solutions and Google Play’s existing billing system, referred to as “User Choice Billing”.
The CMA has initiated a consultation period regarding Google’s proposal, which it has expressed a positive inclination to accept. Interested parties, including developers, are invited to provide input by May 19th. Following a review of the responses, the CMA will make a determination on whether to accept the proposed commitments and thereby bring an end to the case.
What the changes mean for developers
As part of the proposed commitments, developers can incorporate an alternative in-app billing system in addition to Google Play’s billing system for their mobile and tablet users in the UK. Upon reaching the checkout phase, users can select their preferred billing system. These alternatives will be presented in an impartial manner, empowering users to make informed and thoughtful decisions.
Developers can also choose not to offer Google Play billing at all.
The proposed UK plan would expand the availability of alternative billing systems that Google already provides in the EEA.
As part of its UK initiative, Google intends to reduce the “service fee” it levies on developers for in-app digital transactions by 4% per transaction if the developer provides users with a choice that includes Google Play Billing but the user opts for an alternative billing system.
However, if developers decide not to use GPB, the reduction in Google’s cut is slightly lower at 3%, implying that the company is incentivising developers to maintain the availability of its own payment processing technology for users.
Google has clarified that developers must fulfil the requisite user protection standards for both payment options and that the service fees and terms will remain unchanged to sustain its investments in Android and Play. The company also intends to gradually implement the proposed commitments, citing the need to make the requisite adjustments to its systems.
Initially, these options will be available to non-gaming app developers and then extended to gaming app developers no later than October 2023.
- Google has put forward a proposal that would grant developers alternative payment processors for in-app transactions
- Interested parties, including developers, are invited to provide input by May 19th
- On checkout users can select their preferred billing system