The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a consultation on commitments made by Google to give app developers the ability to break away from the company’s in-house billing system, following pressure from the regulator.
Google has faced scrutiny across several markets over the fact it only allows its payment platform to be used to purchase content on apps downloaded from the Play store. It was forced to change its policy in South Korea in 2021.
The UK launched a probe in June 2022 as part of a mobile ecosystem market study and said it will now consult on whether the commitments Google offered are appropriate, setting a deadline of 19 May for feedback.
In a statement, the CMA explained Google Play accounts for more than 90 per cent of native UK app downloads on Android devices and restrictions placed on app developers currently require them to use its own billing systems for in-app transactions.
Under new proposals set out by Google, the CMA said app developers would be able to offer a different payment system of their choosing, or offer users a choice between the Google Play system or an alternative.
Third party payment providers would also have the ability to market services to app developers for processing transactions, it added. Opening up payments on Google Play would further create an environment to benefit the end user, broaden competition and lower costs, it added.
Ann Pope, senior director of antitrust at the CMA, said it was pleased its investigation resulted in Google offering in-app payment freedom, but it still needed to make sure “these commitments will work in practice”.