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Indian Antitrust Regulator Targets Google Over Google Pay Concerns

India’s competition watchdog is taking aim at Google for allegedly abusing its market power to push its payments app in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) announced on Monday (Nov. 9) that it is launching an antitrust case against Google. In particular, the CCI is looking at how Google Pay is promoted when an Android phone is being set up, and whether phone companies have a choice in the matter. It is also looking into whether the billing system for Google Play favors Google Pay. That includes allegations that apps for sale on Google Play must support Google Pay in order to even get listed, and must also pay a hefty commission.

The search giant appears to have taken a page from Apple, requiring app developers to use Google Play’s payment system and its in-app billing service to charge users. And in exchange for being allowed to use Google Play’s payment system, app developers are required to pay a 30 percent commission, Indian antitrust regulators said.

“The informant has also averred that Google enjoys a dominant position in the relevant market(s) for licensable mobile OS for smart mobile devices in India, and the market for app stores for Android mobile OS in India,” the complaint notes. “Due to Google’s dominance in the markets for the licensing of mobile OS and app stores for Android OS, Google has become the de facto gateway to Android smartphones.”

The crackdown comes as Google Pay has made big gains in India’s fast-growing payments sector, going head-to-head with other apps, including Paytm and Walmart’s PhonePe.

Google pushed back against the allegations.

“Google does not grant unmerited prominence to GPay in Play and both Google and non-Google services, including Google’s rivals, can and do appear in Users’ Choice, Editors’ Choice and Top Charts lists,” the CCI said, summarizing Google’s response.

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