Google ‘s recent actions (or more specifically, the Paytm ban from the Play Store) are forcing Indian startups to seek an alternative to the platform. A group of tech founders, including Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Policybazaar’s Yashish Dahiya, have held a meeting to discuss beseeching help from the Indian government for an indigenous app store.
The rising voices against the American search engine giant are because of its new policy of collecting 30% commission on all in-app purchases, which according to the company will only affect 3% apps on its ecosystem.
Indian app developers are complaining about Google’s misuse of its market position in the Indian smartphone market. Recently, allegations were made against Google in India that it was forcing its own payment gateway (Google Pay) over its competitors on several applications. However, Google clarified that users can make use of other UPI payment services as well apart from Google Pay.
The founders are planning to take up the matter of Google’s new commission policies to the Reserve Bank of India and the Indian Finance Ministry. Vishwas Patel, the founder of CCAvenue, said “The government has to certainly step in and take the lead on this. If there is some kind of restriction imposed due to geopolitical tensions, an Indian app store can save the day for everyone”.
The group of founders believes that an Indian app store can help break the duopoly of Google’s Play Store and Apple App Store, just like what the NPCI did to the payments card market by bringing RuPay against the Visa and MasterCards.
Matrimony.com’s Murugavel Janakiraman is pushing for ‘app neutrality’, something similar to net neutrality. He said, “If India has net neutrality, why can’t we have app neutrality? A body monitored by the government can ensure app neutrality, fairness and openness.”
Vishwas Patel of CCAvenue says, after identifying issues and grievances from all the stakeholders involved in the meeting, the next step will be to approach the right authority to seek resolution for the issues. These authorities include the Ministry of electronics and IT, with whom they will discuss the establishment of an Indian app store. The group will also got to the Competition Commission of India, National Payments Corporation of India and the Central Board of Direct Taxes, to seek resolution for Google’s new 30% commission policy. Economic Times reports that the group also discussed about forming a national level lobby group to represent their interests.
A government official said that the industry has not contacted them yet, “But we will take up the matter if they approach us”.