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India fines Google $113 million for ‘unfair’ payment system

India’s antitrust watchdog fined Google $113 million for “unfair” payment policies.

India’s antitrust watchdog fined Google $113 million on Tuesday for “unfair” payment policies, a week after it imposed an even larger financial fine on the tech giant for abusing its market dominance.

The California-based company’s Android mobile operating system is by far the dominant player in India, according to research firm Counterpoint, running on 95 percent of all smartphones in the country.

Independent developers distribute their own software on Android through the company’s app store, Google Play, but must use Google’s billing system to collect revenue from consumers.

This policy amounts to an “unfair condition for app developers,” the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said in a statement announcing the fine.

Google’s “one-sided and arbitrary” billing practices left developers “deprived of the inherent choice to use (a) payment processor of their choice,” it added.

The CCI ordered Google to allow app makers to use third-party billing systems and treat competing payment processing services on an equal footing.

Tuesday was the second financial fine that the CCI imposed on Google in a few days.

Last week, the watchdog fined the company $162 million after it ruled it had configured Android to oust potential rivals from YouTube, Chrome and other popular Google apps.

It also ordered the company not to enter into an agreement with smartphone makers that would encourage them to sell only Android devices or use the software exclusively.

Google faced a similar antitrust ruling in the European Union, which found that the company had imposed “unlawful restrictions” on smartphone makers to help its search engine.

Last month, the EU’s second-highest court awarded a $4.1 billion fine against the company.

Global regulators have followed suit, with Google facing a barrage of cases in the United States and Asia based on similar allegations.

India is home to the second highest number of smartphone users in the world after China.

According to Counterpoint, the smartphone market grew 27 percent year over year in 2021, with annual sales of more than 169 million units.

Apple remains a minor player in the budget-conscious market, but it has made some progress in recent years, and the company announced plans to produce its flagship iPhone 14 locally last month.

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