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Google’s resistance to third party Play store payments eases further with US tests

Tune in to hear how it works on Spotify, or hook up with choice on Bumble

Google’s resistance to allowing third-party payment systems to touch its Play digital store appear to be ebbing away, with the search and ads giant last week announcing it has commenced tests of payment choice in the USA.

Citing “strong interest from developers around the world” after a May 2022 announcement of third=party payments pilot in Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and the European Economic Area, Google last week declared “that based on the positive response and initial feedback from developers and users, we are expanding the pilot to users in the United States, Brazil, and South Africa.”

Google’s post described the pilot as still in “early days” but said the company is “encouraged by this initial response and momentum” and will “continue to build and iterate with our partners and roll out user choice billing to more users.”

The company also announced that dating-and-networking app Bumble – which boasts 100 million users – has joined the pilot.

Spotify, the streaming music service that was the big name when Google first announced it would permit third-party payments in the Play store and apps it offers, last week revealed it will soon offer Android users different ways to pay for the service.

A .GIF of the Spotify payment process shows its app with one button for its own payment scheme and another for Google Play. Both are equally prominent.

Google has not said if or when the pilot will graduate to become a feature of the Play store, but that change seems inevitable as regulators around the world are lining up to accuse Google of running a monopoly that needs to be re-cast to allow competition.

India did just that in late October, prompting Google to stop enforcing rules that prevented third-party payments. That move goes rather further than the pilot that’s allowed Spotify and Bumble to offer payment choice, albeit in a rather cruder way.

While Google's extension of its pilot signals a softening, Apple remains less committed to the idea of allowing third party players to handle payments for apps, or in-app purchases. That stance will be tested in courts next year as the iGiant's case against Epic Games goes before judges in multiple jurisdictions. ®

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