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Google Play to allow alternate billing in Android apps – your move, Apple

Apps on Google Play will soon be able to offer in-app purchases with alternate payment methods, in response to new legislation covering the European Economic Area (EAA).

The forthcoming policy shift, which only applies to non-gaming apps, is designed to help the company comply with the Digital Markets Act, which does not affect the United Kingdom. It’s currently unclear whether Google will offer the same courtesy when it comes to Android apps in the UK, but we have contacted Google for clarity.

The law is designed to lessen the dominance of tech giants like Google and Apple by ensuring greater competition on platforms like Android and iOS.

Until now, both of the major mobile giants have only enabled in-app purchases through their own payment systems. However, in Google’s chase, this will soon change in some parts of the world.

Developers adopting their own payment methods will not get a free ride though, as Google will still charge a service fee, albeit slightly less. The current rate for 99% of developers is 15%, but those using alternative billing methods will qualify for a 12% rate.

While it’s not a particularly large cut, 3% may make a lot of difference to some smaller developers, unless that too is swallowed by cost of using another payment provider.

Perhaps that’s Google’s endgame here? In the end, using the Play Store billing system may work out to be cheaper overall for developers, while still ensuring Google is able to comply with the new European law, which is yet to come into effect.

In a blog post, Google says its “service fees and conditions will continue to apply in order to support our investments in Android and Play.”

Google doesn’t explain why gaming apps are not allowed in on the action. That’s especially pertinent, given the kick-off over Epic Games’ attempts to include an alternate payment method within Fortnite took this debate into the public eye into the first place.

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