CCI Fines Google Rs 936 Crore For Anti-Competitive Play Store Policies


Google abused its dominance with respect to its Play Store policies, the Competition Commission of India said on Tuesday, imposing a monetary penalty of Rs 936 crore on the tech giant.

It’s the third market in which India’s competition regulator has found Google’s conduct to be anti-competitive.

Just last week, the CCI found Google guilty of abusing its dominance in the Android mobile device ecosystem, and online search market. In 2018, the regulator had found Google’s conduct abusive in the online general web search and web search advertising services in India.

The order on Tuesday pertains to Google’s practices in the UPI payments market. The investigation began in 2020 after the CCI had found a prime facie case of anti-competitive practices by Google, which it had noted, has a unique advantage compared to other UPI app developers.

In its final order, the regulator has come to the same conclusion.

Having concluded Google’s dominance in the android market, the regulator looked at Google Play store, which it noted, constitutes the main distribution channel for app developers in the Android mobile ecosystem.

The regulator has noted that sale of in-app digital goods constitutes an important means for app developers to monetise their creations/innovations. To do so, developers are forced to configure their apps so that all purchases of digital goods go through Google’s payment system, which processes the transactions.

Also app developers are restricted from providing their users with a direct link to an alternative payment method or use language that encourages a user to purchase the digital item outside of the app–known as anti-steering provisions in competition law parlance. If the app developers do not comply with Google’s policy of using Goggle Pay, they are not permitted to list their apps on the Play Store, the CCI has pointed out.

This conduct is anti-competitive, the regulator concluded, directing Google to:

  • Allow app developers to use third-party billing/ payment processing services for app purchases and in-app shopping. And not discriminate against other apps facilitating payment through UPI in India vis-à-vis its own UPI app.

  • Not discriminate or take adverse action against apps using third party billing/payment processing services

  • It cannot impose any anti-steering provisions on app developers.

  • Not restrict end users to access and use within apps, the features and services offered by app developers.

The regulator has directed Google to set out a clear and transparent policy on data that is collected on its platform, use of such data by it, who will be shared with, etc. It’s also been directed to share consumer data of apps acquired via Google Pay with the app developers, and not use it to leverage it for competitive advantage.

BQ Prime awaits Google’s response to emailed queries.


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