Google has proposed opening up alternative billing in the UK Play store “no later than October 2023”.
It made the offer in response to the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into its practices, announced in June 2022. The CMA has said it intends to accept the measures.
Google will continue to take most of its 30% “service fee” though. It will take 26% from developers using Google Play’s systems alongside alternative billing and 27% from developers who do not offer an option to pay via Google Play.
A blog post published by Google legal director Oliver Bethell states that under the proposals “developers will be able to add an alternative in-app billing system, alongside Google Play’s billing system, for their mobile and tablet users in the UK.”
The options “will be presented in a neutral manner allowing users to make an informed and engaged choice,” says Bethell.
“Developers can alternatively choose to not offer Google Play billing at all when their users in the UK are paying for digital content and services,” Bethell continues.
Our emphasis is in bold here for extra clarity, as the blog continues:
“The service fees for distributing apps via Android and Google Play will continue to be based on digital sales via our platform. The service fee is how we support our ongoing investments in Android and Google Play, reflects the value provided by Android and Google Play, and is how we earn money as a business. When a user selects alternative billing, we will reduce the developer’s service fee by 4%.”
“When developers choose not to offer Google Play billing at all, the service fee the developer pays will be reduced by 3%.”
Google adds that “Developers are still required to meet appropriate user protection requirements, and service fees and conditions will continue to apply in order to support our investments in Android and Play.”
The Competition and Markets Authority will now be taking industry feedback as part of a public consultation process on the proposals, which will conclude on May 19. If that process continues as expected, the proposals will be enacted “no later than October 2023”.