Google’s South Korean division has announced its intention to comply with the new law, according to which the company is prohibited from restricting payments in the Play Store only to its own payment system, both for purchasing applications and for payments within them.
South Korea passed a relevant law in September, the first of its kind in the world. This initiative is of significant interest, as Google and Apple have insisted for years that restricting transactions in app stores is solely due to user safety concerns, although the fees were 15-30% of each payment. Epic Games, which unilaterally introduced support for payments through its own system, presented the problem as unfair monopolization of the market by tech giants.
According to the South Korean media, the head of the local department of Google Kim Kyung-hoon spoke to the relevant department the day before and, in particular, said: “While there are regrets, we respect the law … We intend to comply with Korean law and will continue to explore ways to save the service fees that keep Android free and support our ecosystem investments. In the coming weeks, we will share details with the developers.“.
As noted by the British edition of The Register, this is not only a confirmation that Google will comply with the requirements of the law, and not fight against it – it is also an acknowledgment that Google does not see insurmountable technical obstacles to make the necessary changes. At the same time, some concern is caused by the statement that the 30% commission is the source of funding for Android and the Play Store. And if the company “continues to explore the possibilities that allow us to save the commissions of the service, thanks to which Android remains free,” then perhaps it is not going to overnight and without additional conditions give third-party payment systems complete freedom of action.
Google and Apple are under pressure from both regulators and competitors to allow third-party payment systems. The main such competitor is Microsoft, which itself recently lowered commissions in its stores and allowed the use of third-party payment services. In addition, investigations on this issue are now being carried out by the relevant departments in Europe, the United States and Australia.