Google has offered to give UK developers the option to use alternative billing systems, providing Android users with more options to pay for apps and services on the platform. The proposal comes ten months after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) began investigating Google’s payment system for in-app purchases. In response to the investigation, Google proposed two options: “Developer-only Billing” (DOB), which would allow developers to offer their own payment system, and “User Choice Billing” (UCB), which would enable users to choose a non-Google billing system.
The CMA is currently accepting feedback on the proposals, which could become legally binding if approved. The tech giant will continue to collect service fees from developers, ranging from 15 to 30 percent of their earnings, but the rates will be lower if developers choose to offer non-Google billing systems. If developers choose to offer alternative billing methods alongside Google’s system, and a user chooses the alternative, the service fee will be reduced by 4 percent.
However, Google explained that the service fees for distributing apps via Android and Google Play will continue to be based on digital sales via their platform, which is how they support their ongoing investments in Android and Google Play, as well as how they earn money as a business.
The proposal’s implementation will occur in phases, starting with non-gaming app developers gaining access to non-Google billing. Gaming app developers will gain access no later than October 2023.
Last year, Google allowed Android app developers to use third-party payments in several European Union states, where they also collected service fees regardless of the billing system users chose.
The CMA launched the investigation into Google’s payment system after finding that Apple and Google held an “effective duopoly” on mobile ecosystems. The CMA warned that Google’s Play Store could lead to “higher prices and reduced choice for Android users.”