Technology

Match Group is suing Google over Android’s in-app payments monopoly

Match Group, the company behind popular dating apps like Tinder, Match and OkCupid, is suing Google over its restrictive billing policies on the Play Store. In its complaint, Match Group alleges that Google “illegally monopolized the app distribution market” on Android by forcing apps to use Google’s own billing system and then cutting payments.

Match Group’s complaint echoes a previous lawsuit Epic Games filed against Apple in 2020 alleging that Apple engaged in “anticompetitive” behavior, including charging a 30 percent commission on in-app purchases demanded in the iOS App Store. Though the final verdict was mixed, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers was particularly skeptical of the payments monopoly claims, saying Apple has the right to license its intellectual property for a fee and that it achieves that goal “in the simplest and most direct way possible” to be payment system.

While Google says certain types of in-app payments must always be made through its billing service, in 2020 the company has made it clear that it wants to everything Apps selling digital goods to use its billing system. This means that Google can of course collect up to 30 percent commission. However, Google lowered that percentage to 15 percent for the first million dollars a developer earns in March 2021, and later did the same for music streaming apps and subscriptions last October. Despite this, Match Group accuses Google of using “bait and switch tactics” to allegedly mislead developers about their payment policies.

“Google lured app developers onto its platform with assurances that we could offer users a choice in how they pay for the services they want,” Match Group’s complaint reads. “But after monopolizing the market for distributing Android apps with Google Play by riding on the coattails of the most popular app developers, Google tried to ban alternative in-app payment processing services to make almost every in-app payment Transaction to shorten Android.”

Match Group further claims that Google wants to impose a so-called app store “tax” that “comes out of the pockets of consumers in the form of higher prices and the revenue that app developers would otherwise earn for selling their services.” It also claims that Google is also benefiting from the “monopolization of the in-app payment processing market” as the company gets its hands on users’ credit card information and identities that it can use to its advantage.

Match Group is part of the Coalition of App Fairness, a group of companies that also includes Spotify and Tile, among others. Its goal is to fight policies it deems anti-competitive, such as B. Apple and Google’s rule preventing developers from using third-party payment processors. In March, Google announced it was testing a way for Android developers to use their own payment systems, starting with Spotify. However, it’s unclear if Google will still receive a commission from these sales, and if so, how much it will charge.

Google spokesman Dan Jackson made the following statement in response to Match Group’s complaint:

This is just a continuation of Match Group’s self-serving campaign to avoid paying them for the significant value they receive from the mobile platforms they built their business on. Like any company, we charge for our services and like any responsible platform, we protect users from fraud and abuse in apps. Match Group is currently raising concerns from regulators over things like deceptive subscription practices, and with this filing they continue to put money before user protection. Match Group’s apps are entitled to pay only 15% for digital subscriptions on Google Play, which is the lowest rate among major app platforms. But even if they don’t want to comply with Google Play’s policies, Android’s openness still gives them multiple ways to distribute their apps to Android users, including through other Android app stores, directly to users through their website, or as pure consumer apps.

Match Group’s complaint comes as both Apple and Google are under scrutiny from companies and government agencies around the world. US lawmakers are tackling the problem of in-app payments with the Open App Markets app, a bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. If signed into law, developers will be able to use their own billing systems and change other potentially anti-competitive behaviors by Apple and Google, e.g. B. Penalizing a developer for offering their app at a better price elsewhere.

Outside the US, South Korea passed legislation last August requiring Apple and Google to allow developers to use other billing services for their apps. Additionally, the Netherlands is still locked in a seemingly never-ending legal battle with Apple over its policies blocking third-party payment processors for Dutch dating apps.

Update May 9th 7:47pm ET: Updated to add a statement from a Google spokesperson.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/9/23064305/match-group-suing-google-over-in-app-payment-policy Match Group is suing Google over Android’s in-app payments monopoly

Fry Electronics Team

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