Dutch antitrust authority probes Google’s app payment rules – POLITICO

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Google’s app store rules are under investigation by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) after dating app Match complained about the terms and conditions of the in-app payment service Google Play Billing, regulators said.

“The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has decided to open a preliminary investigation into a possible abuse of a dominant position by Google Play Store,” a spokesperson for the Dutch agency told POLITICO on Wednesday. “Dating app providers would no longer be able to use a payment system other than Google’s payment system.”

“Dating apps claim they are no longer allowed to refer to other payment methods, the spokesperson said. “Match Group has filed an enforcement petition with ACM, asking ACM to assess whether Google is abusing its dominant position.”

The investigation expands a global row over how Google and Apple set rules for software developers who rely on app stores to reach customers of Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS phones and tablets. The ACM has already ordered Apple to offer alternative payment methods to apps and fined it 50 million euros for non-compliance. On Monday, he said he was seeking a new order to impose new fines. Match supported the ACM in Dutch litigation over the case last year.

A Google spokesperson said Match apps “only pay 15% on Google Play for digital subscriptions, which is the lowest rate among major app platforms.” The search giant’s Android operating system “offers them multiple ways to distribute their apps to Android users, including through other Android app stores, directly to users through their website, or as a consumer applications only,” the company said.

The new Dutch case could find an echo elsewhere in Europe. A similar complaint against Google has also been filed with the German Federal Cartel Office. The European Commission escalated another aspect of phone payments this week by sending formal antitrust objections to Apple over access to its tap-and-go technology.

New Google Play Store rules came into effect in April that require developers to use the company’s own payment system for selling app services. Google says all non-compliant apps will be removed from the Play Store starting June 1.

Apps with annual revenue over $1 million are expected to pay Google a 30% commission on sales made through the company’s in-app payment system. Those who earn below this threshold pay a 15% discount to Google.

Match did not respond to a request for comment.

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