Apple’s in-app payments system hits antitrust roadblock in India, says report

By: |
September 02, 2021 3:22 PM

Last year, EU regulators began a probe into Apple charging a 30-per cent in-app fee to distribute paid digital content.

Apple Inc logoOnly 2 per cent of India’s 520 million smartphones carried Apple’s iOS by the end of 2020. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Apple has found itself in the middle of an antitrust challenge for alleged abuse of its dominant market position in India, Reuters reported citing a source and documents. The antitrust case alleges that Apple forces app developers to use its in-app purchase system and takes a hefty cut in return.

FE Online has not independently verified the documents. We have reached out to Apple for a comment and will update this piece accordingly.

Apple is facing a similar challenge in the European Union. Last year, EU regulators began a probe into Apple charging a 30-per cent in-app fee to distribute paid digital content.

Rajasthan-based non-profit Together We Fight Society has filed the challenge and argued that the 30-per cent fee raised costs for both developers and customers, hurt competition, and acted as a barrier to entering the market.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is expected to review the case shortly and could order a wider probe or dismiss it if it finds no merit, a source told Reuters.

The Reuters source said it was possible that the CCI would order a probe because the EU has already been investigating this.

Only 2 per cent of India’s 520 million smartphones carried Apple’s iOS by the end of 2020, according to Counterpoint Research data. However, the Cupertino-based tech giant’s India smartphone base has more than doubled in five years.

The India case also claims that Apple’s restrictions on developer-consumer communication on payment solutions are anti-competitive. The petitioner has also alleged that this move hurts Indian payment processors that take a much lower service charge at 1-5 per cent.

Earlier this week, South Korea’s National Assembly approved a bill that banned app store operators such as Apple and Google from restricting app developers to their proprietary payment systems.

The CCI is already conducting a probe against Google for a similar violation after Indian start-ups voiced concern over its in-app payments fee. The CCI investigation, which is still ongoing, is part of a broader antitrust probe into Google.

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