Google to begin testing 3rd party billing systems with Spotify

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Tech giant Google has announced a pilot programme to test third-party billing systems in Android and across its wider ecosystem.

The programme will allow a small number of participating developers to offer an additional billing option next to Google Play’s billing system and is designed to help it explore ways to offer this choice to users while maintaining its ability to invest in the ecosystem.

“We think that users should continue to have the choice to use Play’s billing system when they install an app from Google Play,” Sameer Samat, Vice President, Product Management said in a blogpost.

“We also think it is critical that alternative billing systems meet similarly high safety standards in protecting users’ personal data and sensitive financial information,” it added.

The company said it will be partnering with developers to explore different implementations of user-choice billing, starting with Spotify.

“As one of the world’s largest subscription developers with a global footprint and integrations across a wide range of device form factors, they are a natural first partner,” the company said.

“Together, we will work to innovate in how consumers make in-app purchases, deliver engaging experiences across multiple devices, and bring more consumers to the Android platform,” it added.

Meanwhile, the New Delhi-based Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) called Google’s “user choice billing” announcement for “select” developers a clear admission of guilt and an illusion of choice tactic. It has called for an extension of the March 30 deadline to all developers.

“We, at ADIF, believe that Google’s move to allow select app developers to offer other payment methods — instead of mandatorily enforcing Google Play Billing — is a clear admission of guilt that the existing policy is unfair and discriminatory,” ADIF said in a statement.

“User choice billing should be made a rule for all developers and not an exception for a select company. Extending this to only a few companies without much clarity on the terms and commission rates reeks of preferential treatment — again unfair and discriminatory.”

ADIF said that with the deadline barely a week away, this announcement seems like headline management and yet another distract and deflect tactic.

“Backlash from Indian developers and intervention by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) forced Google to extend the Play Billing deadline to October in India,” the foundation said.

“However, for the rest of the world, come March 30, developers will have to pay high commissions and mandatorily use the Google Billing System. It’s about time Google’s high-handedness is put to an end,” it added.

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