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Google faces antitrust investigation in India over its payment service

Google is facing an antitrust investigation in a couple of countries, including the United States and China, and now yet another country has joined the list — India, which is also one of the biggest markets for the company.

India’s antitrust watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has opened an investigation into allegations about Google using its dominant position as an app store to promote its payment service in the country.

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Now, CCI will be reviewing the claims of whether the tech giant prominently promotes its payment service named Google Pay during the setup of an Android smartphone and if Play Store’s billing system is designed “to the disadvantage of both i.e. apps facilitating payment through UPI, as well as users.”

The complaint against Google alleges that the Play Store’s billing system favors the Google Pay app and the in-app purchases for apps downloaded through Play Store are also mandated to support Google Pay service “if they want to be listed on the Play Store” and are required to pay a “high commission” for the same.

In response to this, the company has told CCI that Android is not dominant in the Indian market as it faces significant competition from feature phone operating systems as feature phones now come with functions and performance that attributes to a smartphone.

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The search engine giant also says that its 15 percent and 30 percent service fee is not arbitrary and is market-based, legitimate, and pro-competitive as it covers third party fees and supports investments in Play Store, including resources for developers.

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For those who are unaware, Google Pay was launched in India around three years back but at that time, the service was called Google Tez. Currently, Google Pay is the second-largest online payment service in India, slightly behind Walmart’s PhonePe.

Apart from this investigation, the company is also facing two other antitrust inquiries in the Indian market which includes allegations about abusing its dominance of Android in the Smart TV market and another regarding its dominance of Android in the mobile market.

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