EU antitrust regulators question developers over Google app payments

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The Google LLC logo is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, Aug 4 (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators have asked app developers whether Google’s Alphabet unit’s (GOOGL.O) threat to remove apps from its Play Store if they use apps ‘other payment options instead of its own billing system has hurt their business, two of the people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Critics say the fees charged by Google and Apple (AAPL.O) in their mobile app stores are excessive and cost developers collectively billions of dollars a year, a sign of the two companies’ monopoly power.

Questionnaires were sent out to developers last month, the people said.

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Of the 16 questions in the document, some covered the period 2017-2021 and others 2019-2021. The European Commission declined to comment. Google did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The US tech giant said apps would be removed from its App Store from June this year if developers fail to use its billing system.

Respondents were asked if Google’s policy change this year had any impact on the distribution of their goods or services on the Google Play Store, which apps were affected, and if it had affected their ability to acquire users on Android devices. , said the interviewees.

Regulators wanted to know whether the change forced developers to abandon other payment options in favor of Google Billing and whether migrating users to another payment option affected the number of pre-existing users and developers’ access to data.

Developers were asked if they thought they could offer a better service or product if they had the option of using another payment system.

The EU competition authority also wanted to know if Google allowed them to use an alternative payment system, charged a service fee for it or complained about the security of their payment method.

App developers were asked if digital payments giant Stripe, Dutch payment system Adyen (ADYEN.AS) and PayPal unit (PYPL.O) Braintree were considered alternative payment systems.

Last month, Google said developers of non-gaming apps could switch to competing payment systems for 12% lower fees instead of 15%, with the move applying to European users, to comply with EU rules which will come into force next year. . Read more

Politico first reported on the Commission’s request.

(Story corrects company name to Stripe (not Stripes) in paragraph 10)

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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