Match Group sues Google over monopoly on in-app payment for Android

The Match Group, the company behind popular dating apps like Tinder, Match and OkCupid, is suing Google for its restrictive billing policies on the Play Store. In its complaint, Match Group claims that Google “illegally monopolized the marketplace for app distribution” on Android by forcing the apps to use Google’s billing system and then cutting payments.

The Match Group complaint plays a role in an earlier lawsuit filed by Epic Games against Apple in 2020, alleging that Apple engaged in “anti-competitive” behavior by claiming a 30 percent commission on in-app purchases in the iOS App Store, among fees other. Although the final verdict was mixed, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers was particularly skeptical of the payment monopoly claims, saying that Apple had the right to license its intellectual property for a fee and that it “achieves this goal in the easiest and most direct way” with the payment system.

While Google says it always requires certain types of in-app payments to be carried out through the billing service, the company made clear in 2020 that it wanted everyone Apps that sell digital goods to use their billing system. This, of course, allows Google to collect a commission of up to 30 percent. However, Google lowered that percentage to 15 percent for the first $1 million a developer makes in March 2021 and later did the same for music streaming apps and subscriptions last October. However, Match Group accuses Google of using “bait-and-switch tactics” for allegedly misleading developers about its payment policies.

“Google lured app developers into its platform with assurances that we could give users a choice about how to pay for the services they wanted,” Match Group’s complaint says. “But once it monopolized the Android app distribution market through Google Play by riding the coats of arms of the most well-known app developers, Google sought to block alternative in-app payment processing services so that a portion of nearly every in-app transaction would take up the Android.”

The Match Group further asserts that Google wants to levy a so-called app store “tax” that it says “comes from consumers’ pockets in the form of higher prices and revenue that app developers will earn from selling their apps.” It also claims that Google is also benefiting from a “monopoly” In-App Payment Processing Marketplace”, where it allows the company to obtain users’ credit card information and identities that it can use to their advantage. Google did not respond immediately the edgeComment request.

The Match Group is part of the Coalition of App Fairness, a group of companies that also includes Spotify and Tile, among others. Its goal is to fight policies it considers anti-competitive, such as the rule by both Apple and Google that prevents developers from using third-party payment processors. In March, Google announced that it would begin testing a way for Android developers to use their payment systems, starting with Spotify. However, it is not clear whether Google will continue to receive commission from these sales, and if it does, how much it will charge.

The Match Group complaint comes as both Apple and Google face scrutiny from companies and government agencies around the world. US lawmakers are addressing the issue of in-app payments with Open App Markets, legislation passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. If the law is signed, it would allow developers to use their own billing systems, as well as change other potentially anti-competitive behaviors by Apple and Google, such as penalizing a developer for offering their app at a better price elsewhere.

Outside the United States, South Korea passed a bill last August that requires Apple and Google to allow developers to use other billing services on their apps. Additionally, the Netherlands is still engaged in a seemingly endless legal battle with Apple over its policies banning third-party payment processors for Dutch dating apps.

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