In the United States, Match, the parent company of Tinder, sued Google (pdf) on Monday May 9. She accuses the company of exercising too much control over payments through Google Play. Like Apple, the tech giant imposes its own means of payment within the applications, which allows it to receive a commission ranging from 15% to 30% on all in-app purchases.
Google deploys ‘anti-competitive tactics’
Filed with the Northern District of California, Match’s complaint accuses Google of deploying ” anti-competitive tactics to maintain its monopoly on the Android mobile ecosystem. The owner of Tinder recalls that the company has long been ” Google’s partner but we are now hostage. Google lured app developers onto its platform with the assurance that we could offer users choice in how they pay for the services they want. »
Match explains that Google has never explicitly disapproved of the presence of alternative payment methods. The group therefore believed that Google would fulfill its initial promise, but in 2020 the company abruptly changed its policy. In a dominant position in the Android ecosystem, it has sought to ban all alternative payment methods present in applications. Match CEO Shar Dubey is hoping for a quick win as Google plans to impose its billing system on all apps. Developers have until June 1 to make the necessary changes, otherwise their apps will be removed from the Google Play Store.
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These accusations are reminiscent of those brought by Epic Games against Apple in 2020. With its Fortnite game, the studio tried to avoid Apple’s payment system, which earned it an exclusion. A long lawsuit did not allow Epic to obtain full satisfaction, but put a spotlight on this monopoly situation. The publisher of Fortnite has just started a similar procedure against Google after the removal of its Bandcamp application.
Big Tech under antitrust fire
Several legal precedents give hope to Match and other app creators. In early April, the Korea Communications Commission allowed developers to add an external link to a third-party payment system in their apps. In the Netherlands, Match obtained a partial victory against Apple, by authorizing the use of alternative payment methods in dating applications. However, the giant still receives a 27% commission on transactions. In Europe, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) embodies the antitrust political ambitions of lawmakers and scares off Big Tech.
To minimize the consequences of this antitrust movement, Google is experimenting with official support for other payment methods. The Californian company announced in March its collaboration with the Spotify streaming platform. The contours of this system are still very vague, particularly with regard to the sharing of revenue from transactions. This initiative, driven by legal pressure, is a first step on the part of tech players.
The Match group specifies in its complaint that Google did not respond to the company’s requests to participate in the experiment. This monopoly situation will be at the heart of the concerns in 2022. Epic Games has appealed the decision in its lawsuit against Apple. A conflict that inspires companies like Match to take legal action and public authorities to intensify legislation on tech, as with the DMA.