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CCI again fines Google Rs. 936 crores; second antitrust penalty in a week

Google has mandated app developers to sell their digital goods via Google’s payment system, which processes transactions.

Google

Google has again been fined Rs. 936.44 crores by the Competition Commission of India for abusing its market position on Play Store to promote its payments app and in-app payment system. This is the second fine the tech giant has been slapped with within less than a week. Just a few days ago, CCI fined Google Rs. 1338 crore for anti-competitive practices related to Android mobile devices.

CCI stated that the Google Play store is the main distribution for app developers to distribute their apps in the Andriod ecosystem. Google has mandated app developers to sell their digital goods via Google’s payment system, which processes transactions. App developers have to use Google Play’s Billing System (GBPS)  for receiving payments for Apps (and other digital products like audio, video, and games) and also for certain in-app purchases i.e. purchases made by users of Apps after they have purchased the App from the Play Store. On the other hand, it does not use GPBS for its own applications like YouTube.

Google’s ecosystem does not allow App developers to provide users with a direct link to a webpage containing an alternative payment method or even use language that encourages a user to purchase the digital item outside of the app. This is a provision that all app developers have to comply with in order to list their apps on the Google Play Store.

Google holds a dominant position in the Andriod ecosystem, and making access to the Play Store dependent on mandatory usage of GPBS for paid apps and in-app purchases is one-sided and arbitrary and devoid of any legitimate business interest, notes CCI. The anti-trust watchdog said Google should not restrict app developers from using any third-party billing/ payment processing services for purchasing apps.

In response to CCI’s penalty, a Google spokesperson on Wednesday said, “we remain committed to our users and developers and are reviewing the decision to evaluate the next steps,” according to a tweet by ANI. The statement further added, “Indian developers have benefited from tech, security, consumer protections & unrivalled choice and flexibility that Android & Google Play provide. By keeping costs low, our model powered India’s digital transformation and expanded access for hundreds of millions of Indians.”

Last week, CCI fined Google saying the tech giant has abused its dominant position by forcefully entering into “one-sided agreements” with Android mobile makers to ensure the dominance of its apps and search engine, which has denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on their merits.

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