The Antitrust Probe into Google’s In-App Billing System by India’s Competition Commission

The Antitrust Probe into Google’s In-App Billing System by India’s Competition Commission

Recently, India’s antitrust body has taken a decisive step by ordering a probe into Alphabet Inc’s Google regarding its in-app billing system. This probe comes after an ongoing dispute between Google and local startups in India over the fees charged for in-app payments. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has raised concerns over Google’s policies, stating that they have been implemented in a discriminatory manner.

The Dispute with Indian Startups

For several months, Indian startups have been in disagreement with Google over the fees imposed on in-app payments. The conflict between Google and these startups intensified when Google removed over 100 Indian apps from its app store due to billing violations. However, after intervention from the Indian government, these apps were restored. The startups approached the CCI to investigate the matter, and the watchdog has now initiated an investigation.

In response to CCI’s order, a Google spokesperson mentioned that the company is reviewing the investigation order and will fully cooperate with the process. Google has defended its actions by stating that the fees charged are essential for supporting investments in the Google Play app store and the Android operating system. However, the CCI has directed its investigation unit to complete the probe within 60 days.

The Core of the Issue

At the heart of the matter is Google’s imposition of fees ranging from 11% to 26% on in-app payments by Indian startups. This conflict arises from a previous directive issued by the antitrust authorities in India, which ordered Google to dismantle a system that charges 15% to 30%. Google maintains that these fees are necessary for the development and maintenance of its platforms, ensuring that they remain accessible and functional to users.

The CCI has been diligently examining the complaints filed by startups against Google, alleging that the tech giant has not been compliant with the previous antitrust directive. This directive aimed to prevent Google from taking any adverse actions against companies that opt for alternative billing systems. The investigation by the CCI is crucial in ensuring fair competition and consumer protection within the Indian market.

The ongoing antitrust probe into Google’s in-app billing system by India’s Competition Commission signifies a critical examination of Google’s policies and practices. This investigation will not only shed light on the specific issues raised by Indian startups but also set a precedent for how tech giants navigate regulatory frameworks in emerging markets. The outcome of this probe will have far-reaching implications for the tech industry in India and beyond.


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