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Google Delays In-App Fees Following Outcry From India’s Startups

Following complaints by India’s app developers, Google LLC has postponed the deadline to comply with a new billing system for commission fees by six months.

Reuters reported the Mountain View, California-based tech company said it will enforce the global policy more strictly, including a 30 percent commission fee for in-app purchases from Indian developers starting on March 31, noting it is mindful of local needs and concerns.

“Listening carefully to developer and user feedback is integral to how we continue to make Android better with each release, and improve how the Play Store works,” Google said in a blog post Monday (Oct. 5). “First and foremost, we want to reiterate that we are deeply committed to the success of the Indian ecosystem. We do not succeed unless our partners succeed.”

App developers worldwide have said a 30 percent fee is too high and noted credit card payments processors typically charge 2 percent.

The controversy began last week when Google announced the Sept. 30 enforcement date for the new billing system. It said only 3 percent of apps globally were non-compliant.

That decision prompted India’s startups to organize to lodge complaints in court and with government regulators. To prepare for the assault, entrepreneurs held two video conferences last week to devise a strategy. One of the items on the agenda was a suggestion to launch a startup trade group whose mission would be to protest Google to the Indian government and file lawsuits.

The brawl had its beginning last month when Google removed Paytm, a Noida, India-based eCommerce payment system, from its Play Store, citing policy violations by the app. That was followed by criticism from Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm’s founder. The app was returned to the Google platform a few hours later, after Paytm made some adjustments.

“If we together don’t do anything, then history will not be kind to us,” Sharma said in a video call with other companies, according to Reuters. “We have to control our digital destiny.”

For example, they said nearly 99 percent of the smartphones of India’s 500 million users operate on Google’s Android mobile operating system. The result, they alleged, is Google exerts too much control over apps and other services they can offer.

“A deferment of the fees is just not enough,” an Indian startup executive told Reuters. “The gatekeeper of the biggest application store should be fair and transparent.”

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