Match claims Google is ‘keeping it captive.’ Popular dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid developer Match Group are suing Google over the Play Store’s restrictive pricing rules. According to Match Group’s complaint, Google illegally monopolised the market for Android app distribution by mandating developers to use Google’s pricing structure and then taking a cut.
Epic Games sued Apple in 2020, claiming that Apple engaged in “anti-competitive” behaviour by requesting a 30% fee on in-app purchases in the iOS app store. According to Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers, Apple has the right to charge a price for licensing its intellectual property, and its payment mechanism fulfils this purpose most transparently and directly.
Although this is the case, Match Group claims Google deceives developers about its payment mechanisms. While Google says that certain in-app transactions have always required its pricing service, it has stated that all apps selling digital things must use its billing system by 2020. Of course, this allows Google to profit up to 30%. Google cut the share to 15% for the first $1 million earned by a developer in March 2021 and 12% for music streaming apps and subscriptions in October.
According to Match Group, Google drew app developers to its network by claiming Match Group could give clients options on how to pay for services. To control virtually every in-app transaction on Android, Google Play tried to impose a ban on alternative in-app payment processing platforms.
Match Group also alleges Google intends to impose an “app store tax” on consumers, resulting in higher costs and revenue for app creators. It also claims that monopolising in-app payment processing gives Google access to customers’ credit card information and identities.
Companies like Spotify and Tile are also members of the Coalition of App Fairness. Its goal is to challenge anti-competitive regulations like Apple and Google’s ban on developers utilising third-party payment processors. A framework for Android developers to use their payment systems was announced by Google in March. On a related note, it is unclear whether Google will continue to collect a commission on those purchases.
In response to Match Group’s claim, Google representative Dan Jackson said: The Match Group’s self-serving campaign to avoid paying for the substantial benefit from mobile platforms continues. Like any other ethical platform, he noted that Google charges for its services and protects users from fraud and abuse in apps. Misleading subscription techniques are currently giving regulators concern, and this filing reveals that profits continue to trump user protection. Google Play allows Match Group apps to charge only 15% for digital subscriptions, the lowest rate among major app stores. Because Android is so open, firms can distribute their apps to customers in various ways, including through other Android app stores, directly through their website, or as consumption-only apps.
The case comes as corporations and governments worldwide probe Apple and Google. In February, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Open App Markets App to address in-app payments. A rule allowing developers to use their billing systems would also change other anti-competitive practices by Apple and Google, penalising developers who sell their apps cheaper elsewhere.
In August, South Korea passed legislation forcing Apple and Google to enable third-party billing services in apps. Furthermore, the Netherlands and Apple are still fighting over Apple’s policies banning third-party payment processors from Dutch dating apps.