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India antitrust regulator probes Google’s alleged abuse of market dominance

Written by Avanish Tiwary Published on     2 mins read

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Startups that have received letters from CCI include Paytm, Zomato, PhonePe, UpGrad, Dream11, GOQii, Razorpay, and Matrimony.com.

India’s antitrust watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI) has started an investigation into Google’s alleged misuse of its dominant position in app distribution to promote its own payment service in India.

Over a dozen local startups lodged a complaint against Google alleging the U.S. tech giant forced the use of its Google Pay service for in-app purchases.

CCI has written to the founders of 17 startups with a list of questions to get their perspective, local media Hindustan Times (HT) reported, citing three people directly aware of the matter.

“CCI has also asked startups about the revenue they share with different OS, as well as elements of costs needed for making mobile applications in the country,” one of the co-founders who has received the letter, told HT.

Startups that have received letters from CCI include Paytm, Zomato, PhonePe, UpGrad, Dream11, GOQii, Razorpay, and Matrimony.com.

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Weeks after taking down digital payment app Paytm along with its gaming app Paytm First Games from Play Store and antagonizing Indian startup founders, Google said all app developers will have to use its billing system for in-app purchases. It also said developers would have to pay a commission of 30% on each such transaction starting September 2021.

The move created a furor in the Indian startup ecosystem that in the following days brought concerned founders together to discuss the matter. Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma hosted a Zoom call which saw the attendance of around 50 founders who together decided on a need for a separate app store to break Google’s monopoly in-app distribution.

Following the discussion, Paytm quickly launched a mini-app store as an alternative for app developers and claimed to have already onboarded over 300 apps on the platform.

Google has since then said it has postponed the enforcement of its billing system to April 2022.

“We are setting up listening sessions with leading Indian startups to understand their concerns more deeply. We will be setting up Policy Workshops to help clear any additional questions about our Play Store policies,” Purnima Kochikar, director of Business Development of Games & Applications at Google Play, said in a statement.

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