Google is postponing enforcement of its new Play Store billing policy in India to April 2022, days after more than 150 startups in the world's second largest internet marketplace formed an informal coalition to express concerns about the 30% burden the Android maker is facing started exploring an alternative shop for their apps.
The company, which will go global with the new Play Store rule in September 2021, is postponing enforcement of the policy in India only. It also listens to developers and is ready to get involved to address their concerns, it said.
Last week, Google announced that apps would no longer be allowed to bypass their payment system in the Play Store. The move proposed by Google as a "clarification" to its existing policy would allow the company to ensure that in-app purchases from Android apps operating in a number of categories are reduced by up to 30%.
Today's announcement from Google is a direct response to the biggest audit it has received in a decade in India – the biggest market for users, but also a place that has little revenue compared to western markets. More than 150 startups in India formed an informal coalition last week to combat the company's strong impact on the Indian app ecosystem. According to research company Counterpoint, Google dominates 99% of the smartphone market in India.
Startups that have raised concerns about Google's new policy include Paytm, India's most valuable startup, payment processor Razorpay, fantasy sports company Dream11, social network ShareChat, and business e-commerce IndiaMART.
More than 50 Indian executives video-called these concerns to India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Saturday, according to three people who answered the call.
Several companies in India have long raised concerns about the way Google has enforced its policies in India. However, the matter escalated last month after the company temporarily removed the Paytm app from the Play Store to promote gambling.
According to Google, Paytm has repeatedly violated its policies and the company's Play Store has long banned apps that promote gambling in India. Google has alerted several companies in India about gambling warnings in the past few weeks.
An industry senior official told TechCrunch that the company should have raised these concerns months before the popular IPL cricket tournament began. Fantasy sports apps allow users to choose their favorite players and teams. These players can win real money or points that they can redeem for purchasing physical goods based on the real-world performance of their preferred teams and players. In the IPL season, the popularity of such fantasy sports apps increases enormously.
“The IPL was even delayed by months. Why did Google wait so long? And why does the company in India have a problem with so-called gambling when it allows such activities in other markets? The Indian government has no problem with that. " said the executive, asking for anonymity.
Paytm announced on Monday its own mini app store with several popular services including ride hail company Ola, healthcare offering 1 mg and Practo, fitness startup Cure.fit, music streaming service Gaana, the car rental company Zoomcar, Booking.com, and restaurants Faasos, Domino & # 39; s Pizza and McDonald & # 39; s. The startup said that more than 300 companies have signed up for its mini-store and that its app reaches more than 150 million users every month. (In a written statement to TechCrunch, Paytm announced in June that its app had reached more than 50 million users in India every month.
Paytm, which claims that its mini app store is open to any developer, has a number of features, including support for subscriptions and one-step sign-up. The startup, which claims it won't charge developers a commission for using its payment system or UPI payment infrastructure, but instead will charge a 2% fee for "other instruments like credit cards."
“There are many challenges with traditional mobile apps; For example, the management of multiple codebases on different platforms (iOS, Android or web), the costly user acquisition and the request to publish the app, and a waiting time for user acceptance for changes to the app. If you start as mini-apps, you are freed from all these problems: This means lower development / testing and maintenance costs, with which you can reach millions of Paytm users in the blink of an eye, ”said the Indian company in its pitch.
The launch of a mini-store cemented the Alibaba-supported push by Paytm to transform itself into a super app. Its main competitors, Walmart-backed PhonePe and Google Pay, run similar mini-stores for their apps.
It remains to be seen whether Paytm's own mini app store and the postponement of Google's new Play Store policy will be enough to calm the complaints of other startups. PhonePe is not one of the mini apps in the Paytm store, a Paytm spokesman told TechCrunch.
“I'm proud that we're bringing something to market today that gives every Indian app developer a chance. The Paytm Mini App Store enables our young Indian developers to leverage our reach and payments to build new innovative services, ”said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Paytm, in a statement.