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Google expands Play Store billing alternatives to many countries

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Google has quietly expanded its “User Choice Billing” pilot to let more developers of non-gaming Android apps offer third-party payment options as alternatives to Google Play’s. Developers will see their service fees of 15 to 30 percent reduced by 4 percent when users select a new third-party billing option, which the developer — not Google — must support in case of customer issues. The news was first reported by 9to5Google.

Now, as of September 1st, registered developers from the European Economic Area (EEA), India, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia can participate in User Choice Billing, according to this enrollment page. Google contends that 99 percent of developers using the company’s own Play Store billing qualify for the 15 percent service fee rate — but it’s the revenue-generating Spotifys of the world who pay Google the contested 30 percent on each in-app purchase.

The User Choice Billing pilot originally launched in March with Spotify named as its first partner, after Google was forced to offer alternative in-app payments in South Korea. The moves come in direct response to the intense criticism Google and Apple have received globally over the fees they take from the purchases made in their digital stores that locked developers out of third-party in-app payment systems.

There’s no word on when the program will be expanded to game developers or to developers based in the US. Google only says that, “we expect the pilot details to continue to evolve as we learn more and receive additional feedback.”

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