Google announced today that it is expanding the Play Store user-choice billing program – which allows users to choose alternative payment systems for in-app purchases – to India, Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the European Economic Area. The company is calling all non-gaming developers worldwide apply for this programand if eligible, may use third party payment systems in the above regions.
The search giant has introduced a similar policy for developers and users without games in the EEA region in July. The new guidelines are a continuation of this. The company gave a 3% discount on fees for developers using third-party billing in the EEA region. In the new announcement, the firm said “reasonable service charges will continue to apply,” but did not mention any numbers. The company said it will reveal more details about this in the coming weeks and months.
This information is critical for many developers, as the percentage cut Google takes will determine whether they want to go through the trouble of switching payment processors.
The company said that more than 99% of developers on the Play Store qualify for 15% or lower fees – but the top 1% of developers generate quite a lot of revenue on the Play Store. Google takes a 15% cut from the first $1 million from each developer per year. It then charges 30% after developers’ first million dollars in revenue for the year. Some developers who are eligible for Google Play Media Experience program — which includes apps offering books, audio and video — pay just 10% fees.
While this new expansion includes some of Android’s biggest markets like India and Indonesia, it ignores the US market, where lawmakers are exploring rules that aim to limit Apple and Google’s monopoly on app stores. In July, the company agreed to $90 million settlement with US-based developers on the issue of Play Store fees.
“Android has always been a uniquely open operating system, and we continue to evolve our platform and increase choices for developers and users, while maintaining our ability to invest in the ecosystem.” We’ll be sharing more in the coming months as we continue to build and iterate with our pilot partners,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
The company first piloted this program with Spotify in March and said it will slowly make third-party billing available in all markets where Spotify Premium is available. Later in May, Google also struck a deal with Match Group for its apps, offering alternative payment options for in-app purchases.
Google already offers a third-party payment system Play Store for users based in South Korea after the country passed a law that prohibits companies from imposing a payment system for in-app purchases. However, the company offers a 4% discount on developer fees in South Korea.
Like Spotify’s third-party billing pilot, Google will work with developers to make this option available to users gradually — there’s no official timeline for that yet. So users may not see multiple payment options right away. Once available, users will see different payment systems directly in the app and can decide which one to use based on the fees and features they offer. If they choose to use an alternative payment system, they will need to contact the supplier regarding payment issues, refunds and cancellations.
Google introduced mandatory billing on Google Play globally from June 1, but given the new announcement, developers will be able to use other payment processors in their apps for approved regions.
The Mountain View-based giant’s move to introduce third-party billing in multiple regions will put pressure on Apple to take similar steps. Currently, the iPhone manufacturer offers an alternative charging of dating apps in the Netherlands, reading apps in Japanand all apps in South Korea after being forced by local regulators.