The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has invited developers and stakeholders to respond to Google’s proposal to allow Android developers to use alternative billing systems, Developer Tech reports.

Google’s proposal comes in response to the CMA’s enforcement action against the company last year, which was aimed at the conditions it placed on developers for in-app payments.

“Google’s complete control over in-app payments raised concerns this unfairly restricted app developers – by forcing them to use Google Play’s billing system – putting distance between them and their customers and reducing competition, to the detriment of Google Play users,”

said Ann Pope, Senior Director of Antitrust at the CMA.

The proposal offers two options: Developer Only (DOB) or User Choice (UCB), which will give users the option to choose between alternative billing and Google Play Billing (GPB).

The fee reductions are part of Google’s proposal to address the concerns raised by the CMA. Google has also asked for the option to phase in the proposed commitments, with the service initially available to non-game app developers and then extending to game apps no later than October 2023.

The CMA has launched a consultation on Google’s proposal and invites developers and other interested parties to respond by 19 May. After considering the responses, it will decide whether to accept the commitments and resolve the case.
The proposal is an extension of the alternative billing choice that Google already offers in the European Economic Area (EEA) and in other parts of the world, such as South Korea and India, where Google was forced to offer alternative billing due to a $162 million fine for antitrust practices.

Google’s proposal requires developers to meet appropriate consumer protection requirements, and fees and terms of service will continue to apply to support investment in Android and the Play Store.

The CMA is seeking feedback on Google’s proposed reduction in service fees, the proposed process for reporting to Google on turnover associated with in-app purchases, the use of information screens, the UCB billing choice screen, and the process Google proposes for monitoring compliance with commitments.

“Both DOB and UCB would allow app developers the opportunity to use billing systems of their choosing (and DOB would allow them to choose not to offer GPB at all), breaking the link that the GPB requirement currently creates between access to Google Play and the use of Google’s proprietary billing system for in-app sales of access to digital content or services,”

wrote the CMA in its Notice of Intent.

“Moreover, third-party payment processors will be able to offer their services to potential app developer customers for in-app purchases of digital content or services within an app distributed on Google Play, allowing app developers to benefit from increased choice and competition.”

the CMA continued.

Both DOB and UCB will enable app developers to use billing systems of their choice, breaking the link that the GPB requirement currently creates between access to Google Play and access to millions of Android users.

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