17 February 2021
Google has announced that it will enforce its billing policies to the app developers who do not comply with them already. According to the Google Play billing policy, app developers will be required to use its built-in payment system for in-app purchase purposes.
Google via a blog post has said that effective January 20, 2021, new app submissions will need to be in compliance with its billing policy, according to which the in-app purchases must use Google Play’s billing system as the method of payment and pay 30% commission to Google.
The giant clarifies that its policy is not new and has long been here. Google says the announcement is meant for that 3% of developers who are not complying with its policy already and rather using their payment methods for any digital goods they are selling. This means nearly 97% of developers already use Google Play’s billing. Google is giving a year to those 3% of developers so that they could change their in-app purchase payment method. So, exactly one year from now, all developers will follow Google’s Play Store billing policy.
Currently, apps like Netflix and Spotify do not use Google’s payment method. The services offer credit card billing methods to its users and that’s how they get the entire payment. But now with the new policy, they would require to use Google Play’s built-in payment method and cut 30% of that fee to Google.
Sameer Samat, Vice President, Product Management, Google writes,
"We only collect a service fee if the developer charges users to download their app or they sell in-app digital items, and we think that is fair. Not only does this approach allow us to continuously reinvest in the platform, but this business model also aligns our success directly with the success of developers.”
Note that this rule is applicable to apps that are published on Play Store. The app developers are allowed to sell their same apps anywhere else, like directly via websites or device preloads, all without using Google Play’s billing system. Google via its announcement also clarifies that the app developers are free to communicate with their customers directly about pricing, offers, and even alternative ways to pay for their digital products and services via emails or other channels.
"To clarify, Google Play does not have any limitations here on this kind of communication outside of a developer’s app. For example, they might have an offering on another Android app store or through their website at a lower cost than on Google Play," it said. Google even allows any app to be consumption-only, even if it is part of a paid service.