Google has launched a pilot program that will broaden the scope Payment methods supported by Play Store, the official Android app market.
As explained in support documentation (opens in a new tab)the trial period will allow Android developers in the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Indonesia, India and Japan to implement billing systems that are not owned and operated by Google.
The pilot program will cover in-app purchases and subscriptions as well browser popups but for an undisclosed reason will not currently include mobile gaming apps.
Google Play Store commission
The new Play Store trial period can be seen as a result of recent pressure from stakeholders and regulators on calling for reforms like Google and Apple, which are under pressure in the mobile app ecosystem.
Infamous, Apple is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Epic Games, the creator of the popular Fortnite video game. The company tried to bypass the 30% commission in the summer of 2020 by launching its own in-app payment mechanism, which saw Fortnite immediately removed from the App Store. While the judge ruled largely in favor of Apple in the first part of the case, Epic has appealed the ruling and the dispute continues.
Meanwhile, legislation passed in the US state of Arizona last year was intended to stop Google and Apple from forcing developers to use only one payment system and penalizing those who opted for an alternative system.
While the law only protected Arizona developers and residents, it did set a precedent that could give impetus to similar measures in other states and countries.
An attempt at alternative payments on the Play Store could be interpreted as an attempt to stay ahead of any new regulations, which may turn out to be even stricter than the voluntary concessions made under the pilot scheme.
While the trial period will minimize the extent to which Google can use market power to its economic advantage, it may not fully satisfy developers who believe the company is demanding too much reduction in app purchases.
Although Google cut its commission from 30% to 15% last year, the company will continue to charge a 4% service fee for all purchases made via alternative methods as part of the pilot. For its part, Google says its fees were never simply the cost of processing a transaction, but reflect the broader value provided by the Android platform.
A similar line of argument was presented by Apple last year when the company campaigned against the new law in Arizona.
“The commission has been described by some specific interests as a” payment processing fee, “as if Apple were just swiping the credit card. It’s so confusing, ”said Kyle Andeer, Chief Compliance Officer at Apple.
“Apple provides developers with tremendous value – both a store to distribute their applications around the world and a studio to develop them. This is what the committee reflects. “