India’s antitrust watchdog has opened an investigation into Google for allegedly abusing the dominant position of its app store to promote its payments service in the world’s second largest internet market.
In its Monday announcement (PDF) about opening an antitrust case against Google, Indian watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) said it would review claims of whether the Android maker prominently promotes Google Pay during the setup of an Android smartphone (and whether phone vendors have a choice to avoid this); and if Play Store’s billing system is designed “to the disadvantage of both i.e. apps facilitating payment through UPI, as well as users.”
The informant, who has not been identified, alleged that in addition to Google Play Store’s billing system favoring Google Pay app, in-app purchases for apps downloaded through Play Store are also mandated to support Google Pay service “if they want to be listed on the Play Store” and they are required to pay a “high commission” for that.
The informant also alleged that Google “unfairly” skews the search results on the Play Store in favor of Google Pay app over others — though CCI is not investigating this claim citing not enough evidence to support them. Google “rigs its feature app lists such as ‘Editor’s Choice Apps’, ‘User Choice Apps’ and ‘Top Free apps’ … demonstrating clear bias in favor of its own app; by manipulating the search advertisements algorithm on the Play Store in favor of Google Pay.”
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