Google on Friday said it is deferring the deadline for developers in India to integrate with its Play billing system from March 2022 to October next year.
In October last year, the company had announced March 31, 2022 as the deadline for developers in India to integrate with Play’s billing system.
A Google spokesperson on Friday said the extension has been done in view of the changes to India’s recurring digital payments guidelines.
“We are extending this to 31st October 2022 to provide developers in India the required product support for recurring payments through convenient user payment systems, including UPI and wallets, and also provide them more time in light of the changes to India’s recurring digital payments guidelines,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that Google recognises the unique needs of the developer ecosystem in India and remains committed to partnering with developers in India on their growth journey.
In the past, Indian developers and startups have raised concerns around Google’s Play billing system, saying the tech giant cannot force Indian app developers/owners to sell digital services by compulsorily using its billing system.
Google had previously stated that apps that choose to sell digital content through its Play Store have to use Google Play billing system and pay a percentage of the in-app purchase as a fee. It had given time until September 30, 2021 to complete the necessary updates.
However, it extended the deadline to March 31, 2022 after concerns were raised by the developer community in India.
The tech giant has emphasised that its payments policy is not new and it has always required developers who distribute their apps on Play, to use Google Play’s billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods.
The policy only applies if a developer charges users to download their app or they sell in-app digital items, which is less than 3 per cent of developers with apps on Google Play, it had said.
Concerns have also been raised by developers globally at the steep commissions charged by app stores owned by tech giants Google and Apple. Earlier this year, Google had slashed the commission fee from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.
The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), in a statement, said Google’s decision to extend the deadline to October 2022 certainly gives developers a short-term relief for their anxiety.
“We, however, disagree and mark our strong objection with the reasoning given for the extension. The core issue for the developers is the gatekeeper tax of 15-30 per cent on a select category of apps and restrictions on the use of other payment options and Google fails to admit that in their announcement,” it said.
ADIF said app developers, especially those selling digital goods and services, have been unhappy and vocal about their objections to the policy ever since it was announced back in September 2020.
Google has been tinkering with the policy since – moving the deadline and then lowering the percentage of its app store fees – to make it more palatable to the app developers, it noted. ADIF said having failed to appease the developers with half-hearted measures, the company has now extended the deadline a second time around.
It added that the core issue for the developers is the gatekeeper tax of 15-30 per cent on a select category of apps and restrictions on the use of other payment options.
“The reality is that app owners have been in a very tough spot as they are unsure if they should unwillingly comply with Google’s new policies and be hopeful of CCI’s intervention on the interim relief petition for maintaining the status quo. Google’s deadline extension certainly gives them more time but doesn’t take away their uncertainty,” ADIF Executive Director Sijo Kuruvilla George said.