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Google Antitrust Case

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

By Nooreen Kaur and Aishveen Kaur

On September 18, Google blocked Paytm from its Play Store for a few hours for violating its policy on sports betting activities. The app was later re-stored after the fintech app removed the 'cashback' feature linked to a game on the app. After the removal of Paytm from Play Store, Google faced a backlash from Indian developers with many saying the tech giant cannot force Indian app developers/owners to sell digital services by compulsorily using its billing system.

After a face-off with leading digital payments platform Paytm, Google sent notices to Zomato and Swiggy for running cashback-based IPL games and both the food aggregator platforms have decided to pause their virtual gaming leagues.

A company spokesperson commented that they were a small company and had already realigned their business strategy to comply with Google’s guidelines. They would be replacing Zomato Premier League with a more exciting program. For both the food delivery companies, IPL has been touted as the best time to garner a larger share of consumer’s minds as well as wallets, and gamification features were a part of increasing engagement on the app as Zomato and Swiggy do not operate any gaming platforms, industry experts said. The development comes 12 days after Paytm’s app was temporarily delisted from Google Play Store after the US-based technology behemoth said that the IPL-based cashback promotion flouted its anti-gambling policy. For food delivery businesses, IPL is a crucial time to push for customer acquisition, and transactions. In fact, after a weak quarter, food delivery sales have recovered an additional 10% in September over the previous month, to touch 85% pre-Covid-19 numbers, according to a report by Zomato.

For years, Google and Apple have charged a 30% commission for apps selling digital goods on their app Stores. While Apple has been strict about enforcing the fee, Google has typically been lax about it, due to which companies have by passed this system. In a blog post, Google clarified that it will be more explicit about enforcement in future. Google will no longer permit apps to lead users to external websites, which is used to bypass Google’s payment policy completely. App developers, including those such as Netflix, Spotify, and dozens of apps in India, have till September 30, 2021 to restructure their payment systems.


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