Match Group sues Google over Android’s in-app payment monopoly

Match Group, the company behind popular dating apps like Tinder, Match and OkCupid, is suing Google over its restrictive Play Store billing policies. In its complaint, Match Group claims that Google “unlawfully monopolized the app distribution market” on Android by forcing apps to use Google’s own billing system and then taking a cut of the payments.

Match Group’s complaint follows an earlier lawsuit Epic Games filed against Apple in 2020, alleging Apple engaged in “anti-competitive” behavior by demanding a 30% commission on in-app purchases. iOS app store, among other fillers. Although the final ruling was mixed, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers was particularly skeptical of the monopoly payment claims, saying Apple has the right to license its intellectual property for a fee and that it “accomplishes that goal. in the simplest and most direct way” with its payment system.

While Google says it has always required certain types of in-app payments to be made through its billing service, the company made it clear in 2020 that it wanted everything apps selling digital goods to use its billing system. This, of course, allows Google to collect up to 30% commission. Google, however, reduced that percentage to 15% for the first million dollars a developer earns in March 2021 and then did the same for music streaming apps and subscriptions last October. Even so, Match Group accuses Google of employing “bait and switch tactics” to allegedly mislead developers about its payment policies.

“Google attracted app developers to its platform with the assurance that we could offer users the choice to pay for the services they want,” the Match Group complaint reads. “But once it monopolized the Android app distribution market with Google Play by overlapping the most popular app developers, Google sought to ban other in-app payment processing services in order to to be able to reduce almost all in-app transactions. Android.”

Match Group further claims that Google wants to impose a so-called “tax” on app stores which it says “comes out of consumers’ pockets in the form of higher prices and revenue that app developers would earn.” and should otherwise earn for the sale of their performances. He also claims that Google also benefits from “monopolizing the in-app payment processing market” because it allows the company to get hold of the credit card information and user identities it can. use to his advantage.

Match Group is part of the Coalition of App Fairness, a group of companies that also includes Spotify and Tile, among others. Its goal is to fight policies it deems anti-competitive, such as Apple and Google’s rule that prohibits developers from using third-party payment processors. In March, Google announced it would start testing a way for Android developers to use their own payment systems, starting with Spotify. However, it’s unclear if Google will still take a commission on these sales, and if so, how much it will charge.

Google spokesperson Dan Jackson released the following statement in response to Match Group’s complaint:

This is simply a continuation of Match Group’s self-serving campaign to avoid paying for the significant value they receive from the mobile platforms they’ve built their business on. Like any business, we charge for our services, and like any responsible platform, we protect users from fraud and abuse in apps. Match Group is currently drawing regulators’ concerns over things like deceptive subscription practices, and with this filing, they continue to put money ahead of user protection. Match Group apps are eligible to pay just 15% on Google Play for digital subscriptions, which is the lowest rate among major app platforms. But even if they don’t want to comply with Google Play policies, Android’s openness still gives them multiple ways to distribute their apps to Android users, including through other Android app stores, directly to users through their website or as consumer applications only.

Match Group’s complaint comes as Apple and Google face intense scrutiny from companies and government agencies around the world. US lawmakers are tackling the problem of in-app payments with the Open App Markets app, a bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. If enacted, it will allow developers to use their own billing systems, as well as change other potentially anti-competitive behavior by Apple and Google, such as punishing a developer for offering their app at a better price elsewhere. .

Outside the United States, South Korea passed a bill last August that requires Apple and Google to allow developers to use other billing services on their apps. Additionally, the Netherlands is still locked in a seemingly never-ending legal battle with Apple over its policies that block third-party payment processors for Dutch dating apps.

Update May 9, 7:47 p.m. ET: Updated to add a statement from a Google spokesperson.

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