Thursday, September 28, 2023

Delhi High Court directs CCI to decide on plea against Google’s new in-app billing policy by April 26

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The High Court of Delhi directed the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Monday to decide on the applications moved by some start-ups against the new in-app billing policy of Google by April 26.

The order was passed by the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Tushar Rao Gedela on a petition filed by the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), which has PaytM,, TrulyMadly, MapMyIndia and several other startups as its members.

The High Court noted that there was no impediment, whether legal or otherwise, in directing the CCI to hear the applications filed by the petitioner under Section 42 and decide the same on or before April 26.

The petition filed by ADIF contended that Google earlier mandated app developers to use its payment method named Google Play Billing System (GPBS) for all transactions, including paid app downloads and in-app purchases. It said the GPBS reportedly entailed a commission of 15-30 percent and had a settlement period of 45 days.

In October 2022, however, the regulatory body slapped a fine on Google and directed it to allow use of third-party billing services for in-app payments.

The ADIF contended that Google was attempting to bypass the CCI direction by introducing a policy called ‘User Choice Billing’ (UCB), which will come into effect from April 26.

The petitioners contended that UCB was a cloaked version of GPBS, which projected the hoax of giving liberty to app developers to opt for third-party payment processors.

But, even when a user used such third-party payment processors, Google would charge service fee at 11-26 percent from the developers, it added.

The ADIF informed the High Court that it filed several applications before the CCI against Google’s non-compliance, but the Commission was yet to take any action owing to lack of quorum. As a result of this, the market remained vulnerable to abuse of dominant position by Google.

It alleged that Google was taking advantage of the lack of quorum of CCI and engaging in anti-competitive conducts, which would cause irreversible harm to the members of the petitioner and other app developers in the market and cause distortion in the market.

The petitioner sought directions to Google to keep implementation of UCB in abeyance till the CCI adjudicated on their applications.

The plea further sought directions to the tech company not to charge any commission when transactions happened through third-party payment processors.

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