Google launches alternative Play Store billing systems in more countries

What do you want to know

  • Google has announced that it is expanding its subscription to user-choice billing in select countries.
  • The new billing system allows developers to offer alternative methods in their apps as long as the Play Store billing system remains an option.
  • However, registration is not yet available in the United States and there are some restrictions.

Criticism over its Play Store billing system forced Google to team up with Spotify earlier this year on an alternative method, which is now being rolled out to developers in more countries.

Google quietly opened registration (opens in a new tab) for its user-choice billing program, allowing developers to offer alternative payment methods in their apps alongside the Play Store’s controversial billing system (via 9to5Google (opens in a new tab)). However, various restrictions are in place, the main one being that only non-game developers will be able to sign up for the pilot.

Additionally, developers must be based in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan to be eligible. That means US-based developers will have to wait a bit longer, with Google keeping quiet about the program launching in the US.

The user-choice billing system was first launched in March this year, with Spotify as its first partner. The expansion allows developers who are registered companies in the aforementioned countries to participate in the pilot project. By doing so, they will see their service fees paid to Google reduced by 4% if a user opts into their alternative billing system.

Google currently takes a 15% commission on the first $1 million in in-app purchase revenue per year, after which it will revert to 30%.

Besides the application category restriction, there are several conditions that developers must meet in order to provide alternative billing methods. For payments made with debit or credit cards, they must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). Developers should also provide support for customer complaints or inquiries.

Developers are also prohibited from “disabling or enabling user-chosen billing in a particular app or country” without first notifying Google. Changes to in-app enrollment preferences will take effect on the first day of the following month. If you are not a game developer, you can register by completing this billing declaration form (opens in a new tab).

Although the pilot currently only supports non-gaming apps, Google said the pilot “will evolve as we learn more and receive additional feedback.”

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