• Chethan Machaknur

Startups accuse 'gatekeeper' Google of not playing fair

Indian startups are up in arms against the Google Play Store for forcing apps with in-app purchases to use its "expensive and unaffordable" billing system. Google levies a 30% commission against 1.5-2% levied by external gateways.

While the policy has always been in place, it's only now being enforced in India. This will affect dating, education, video and music-on-demand, and other apps that rely on in-app purchases but not those for physical deliveries such as ecommerce.

The startups say it's unfair exploitation of the Play Store's monopoly that stems from the dominance of Google's Android operating system. "It will badly affect us - 30% is tax, cannot be called commission!" said Snehil Khanor, CEO of TrulyMadly, a dating app. "They say we provide an ecosystem but we get the downloads through ads. For many small companies, it can be an existential threat."

Razorpay co-founder and CEO Harshil Mathur said the commission would make things tough."A 30% commission on in-app payments is exorbitant and could kill so many businesses in India," he said. "While an Indian app store is a logical alternative, India requires a broader policy framework to find a more permanent resolution."

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