CMA in talks with Google to bring more payment options to Google Play

Developers working with Google Play will soon be offered a wider range of payment integrations to choose from after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) filed a proposal to alter Google’s transaction policies.

A probe was launched by the CMA shortly after it released its ‘mobile ecosystems market study’ that raised potential concerns regarding Google’s control over payments processing on Google Play, which the CMA concluded might lead to higher prices and reduced customer choice. 

The new proposals entail that app developers will be given the opportunity to either offer payments of their choosing – also known as Developer-only Billing (DOB), or provide users the option to choose between Google Play billing or an alternative system, which is called ‘User Choice Billing’.

This will create a disruption in Google’s usual practices that are currently limiting app developers to only use Google Play infrastructure to process all purchases made from within their apps, which make up more than 90% of all native app downloads on Android devices globally.

Furthermore, if the proposal takes off, Google Play users will be able to benefit from new offers and in-app deals that are not obtainable under current Google Play rules.

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

“While we’re pleased our investigation has resulted in Google offering to give in-app payment freedom to thousands of app developers, we need to make sure these commitments will work in practice – so we welcome all feedback, which we will carefully consider before making a final decision.” 

The CMA is still accepting feedback on the longevity of the planned proposals, with app developers and third-party payment providers free to submit their comments by 19 May.