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Google’s payment app faces antitrust probe in India

The company is reportedly using its large-scale reach of Android to push its payment app in India.

After Search and Android, now it’s time for Google’s payment app to face the scrutiny of anti trust probe in India. According to Reuters, a complaint has been filed with theCompetition Commission of India (CCI) back in February, and sources suggest Google will be questioned for its anti-competitive practices of promoting its payment app on Android phones. The complainant says Google is abusing its market position in the country and displaying its Google Pay app prominently on the app store. This is believed to give Google an unfair advantage over its rivals, offering better visibility to its app, making it convenient for the user to download.

Google Pay was launched in 2018 and since then it has registered over 67 million monthly active users in the country. The complaint filed with CCI alsoalleges Google is promoting its payments app using search manipulation, as per the source quoted in the report. Google Pay rivals Paytm, PhonePe in the country, while other banking apps from HDFC, ICICI and Axis are also in the mix. But unlike Paytm and PhonePe, Google’s payment works exclusively on Unified Payment Interface (UPI), for which users need to sync with their bank account, and set up a four-digit passcode to secure the platform.

With more than 98 percent of Android devices being used in the country, it’s obvious that anti-competitive allegations will be raised from different corners. Google is no stranger to such complaints in the country. Back in 2019, the company wasabusing its popular Android mobile operating system to block its rivals.

Even in 2018,Google was under the scanner of the Indian antitrust watchdog who had imposed a fine of 1.36 billion rupees ($19 million) on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position. The other payment app to face CCI scrutiny this month was WhatsApp. The antitrust bodyis probing allegations against WhatsApp for trying to use its messaging user base to push the case for its digital payment service. The Facebook-owned messaging platform is allegedly using the platform to make inroads into the country’s digital payment ecosystem by bundling its payment feature within the app.

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