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March 2, 2024

Google Prepares to Drop Matrimony Apps Amid Payment Dispute with Indian Startups

Google is on the brink of removing several Indian matrimony apps, including some prominent ones, from its Play Store amidst a heated dispute over service fee payments, according to sources familiar with the matter. The conflict revolves around startup efforts to resist Google’s imposition of a service fee ranging from 11% to 26% on in-app payments in India, following orders from antitrust authorities to dismantle its earlier fee structure of 15% to 30%.

Despite court rulings in January and February, including one by the Supreme Court, refusing relief to startups, Google has been given the green light to enforce the fee or remove apps. Notably, Google has issued Play Store violation notices to Matrimony.com, the operator of BharatMatrimony, and Info Edge, which operates Jeevansathi, signaling potential removal of their apps.

Matrimony.com’s founder, Murugavel Janakiraman, expressed concern, stating that the move would effectively result in the deletion of all top matrimony services. Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani affirmed that the company had complied with Google’s policies by settling all pending invoices in a timely manner.

In response, Google stated in a blog post that 10 Indian companies had opted not to pay for the value they receive on Google Play, emphasizing its right to charge fees. The company underscored that neither courts nor regulators had challenged its fee structure, and the Supreme Court had declined to intervene on February 9. However, Google did not disclose the names of the affected firms.

This potential app removal by Google could provoke backlash from the Indian startup community, which has long criticized the tech giant’s practices. Google, holding a dominant 94% share of the Indian market with its Android platform, argues that its service fee supports investments in the app store and Android operating system, ensuring free distribution and covering developer tools and analytics services.

Despite Google’s stance, only a small fraction—3%—of the over 200,000 Indian developers on the Google Play platform are required to pay any service fee, according to the company. The ongoing dispute underscores the tensions between global tech giants and local startups in emerging markets like India.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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