Indian startups petition Delhi High Court to halt Google’s new in-app billing system


APRIL 12, 2023

A group of Indian startups, represented by the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), has petitioned the Delhi High Court to suspend Google’s new in-app billing fee system, known as the User Choice Billing system (UCB) until the Competition Commission of India (CCI) investigates the tech giant for alleged non-compliance with its directives. The startups argue that the new UCB system still charges them a high service fee, despite an antitrust directive in October 2020 requiring the company to allow the use of third-party billing services for in-app payments.

ADIF’s legal filing, a 744-page document, also highlights the delay in hearing its complaint by the CCI, despite the looming April 26 implementation date of the UCB system. The petition asks the court to “keep the implementation of Google’s UCB in abeyance” until the CCI hears the complaint.

This latest development marks another episode in the ongoing tussle between Google and rival startups, with the latter repeatedly criticising the former for imposing unfair business restrictions. In October 2020, the CCI fined Google $112 million, ordering the company to stop forcing developers to use its proprietary in-app payment system, citing it as an abuse of Google’s dominant market position. Google, however, denied any wrongdoing and challenged the antitrust ruling.

Google’s new service fee system, according to the company, supports investments in the Google Play app store and the Android mobile operating system, ensuring they are distributed for free, and covers developer tools and analytic services.

However, Indian startups argue that the UCB system still imposes a service fee ranging from 11-26 per cent, compared with the earlier in-app payment system that charged a fee of 15-30 per cent. The ADIF filing describes the new system as a “cloaked” version of Google’s earlier system.

The court is expected to hear the plea later this week, while the CCI and Google have yet to respond to the latest legal challenge.

Courtesy/Source: Business Today / PTI