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Paytm challenges Google, launches its own Mini App store
Paytm, the digital payments company has launched a mini app store to support Indian developers, in a direct challenge to Google's dominance in the space.
The store launch follows the temporary removal of the paid app from Google's Play Store on September 18 for violating developer guidelines on real money gaming.
While the removal of the app may be a trigger, the Paytm move is perhaps a direct consequence of Google requiring developers listed on its Play Store to use its billing service. Google charges a 30% commission on any transaction made for a digital product or service through its in-app billing system.
Paytm said the mini-app store would help developers bring their products to the masses and is providing a listing and distribution of these mini-apps within their app. Rival PhonePe launched its platform in the app in June 2018 and rebranded it as PhonePe Switch in October 2019.
More than 300 apps, including Decathlon, Ola, Rapido, Netmeds, 1MG, Domino's Pizza, FreshMenu, NoBroker, have joined the Paytm app store, the company said.
Last week, startup founders such as Paytm's Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Razorpay's Harshil Mathur, along with 50 other founders, discussed the possibility of creating an Indian app store to challenge Google.
In another move, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (Iamai) industry body, which has many startups as members, sought a collective strategy to tackle the problem. In a Sept. 29 note, Iamai said he is seeking a meeting with his founding members to understand their concerns and resolve them.
"Just because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem of this country, they should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations that are contrary to our country's laws," said Vishwas Patel, founder of CCAvenue and chairman of Payments Council of India and a member of Iamai. "Google's stand in courts is that it does not need RBI authorization as it is not a payment system operator and, here, it is mandating that Indian apps use only Google's proprietary billing and payment systems. Google should not exercise its dominant position, rather allow a level-playing field for everyone," he added.
Patel, the founder of the Payments Council of India, said in the September 29 note that Google "cannot" force "Indian developers to use Google billing and charge a commission for it.
The Indian developers plan to pressure the government and propose an alternative to Google. In fact, the commercial channel ETNow reported last week that the government plans to increase its Mobile Seva app store, which has been primarily targeted at MSMEs, to act as an alternative to Google and Apple platforms.
The government is reportedly planning to make the Mobile Seva app store mandatory on all smartphones. Paytm recently appeared on the store, which mostly has government apps.