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Spotify is the first to launch a non-Google Android billing service in the US

what? We’re not slowing down, it’s just too complicated —

Spotify is Google Play’s first partner for User Choice Billing.

Ron Amadeo

– UTC November 10, 2022 10:06 PM

The logo for the board game Monopoly, complete with Uncle Pennybags, has been transformed to say Google.

enlarge/ Let’s see, you landed on my “Google Ads” space and own three houses…that would be $1,400.

Ron Amadeo / Hasbro

Google is slowly loosening its grip on Google Play billing. In March, the company announced a pilot “User Choice Billing” program that will give users the option to buy things on Google Play through a third-party payment processor. In some countries, the pilot launched in September, with Google accepting developer registrations in the European Economic Area, Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan. Today, the feature is finally coming to the US, with Google announcing an expansion to the US, Brazil, and South Africa.
As announced in March, Google is working on this project Spotify, one of its largest customers, has its own blog post announcing that the feature will be rolling out this week. The Play Store has always required developers to only use Google Play Billing for in-app payments, but big players like Spotify and Netflix have ignored those rules for years, seemingly thinking they’re too big to be banned. For years, they were right, but Google announced that it would really start enforcing its rules in 2022, even for big companies. When the March deadline hit, though, it also announced user choice billing, with Spotify as the first partner, so it’s unclear if Google will actually be able to get Spotify to play by the rules. The logo for the board game Monopoly, complete with Uncle Pennybags, has been transformed to say Google.

Spotify gives you the option of “Spotify” or “Google Play” first, and clicking the “Spotify” button will let you Enter a credit card or use PayPal.
Spotify has an official user-selected image However, the bill looks like it has “Google Play” and “Spotify” payment buttons next to each other on the subscription checkout page. Tapping the “Spotify” button brings up the option to enter a credit card directly or use PayPal. Spotify said it was “the first app to pilot” user-opt-in billing with this launch, and Google said dating app Bumble was the second to be approved for alternative billing.
Google’s blog post ridiculously describes the various payment options as Some kind of grand experiment, a world first, unprecedented. Google said it wanted to “understand” the complexities involved in having a second payment option, and needed to “test and iterate” different implementations of handling credit cards. Every other checkout screen on the internet has had a PayPal button for about 20 years, so maybe some of that experience can help Google navigate this murky, uncharted territory. Google says Spotify’s “initial test implementation” of the PayPal button will “likely evolve over time as they iterate and learn.”
The logo for the board game Monopoly, complete with Uncle Pennybags, has been transformed to say Google.
enlarge/ Google’s “User Choice” Infographic Billing” Country.

The ever-changing goalpost billing of alternative app stores means it’s not clear if anything is actually being accomplished here. The original motivation for alternative payments was to sidestep Google’s (and Apple’s) app store fees, which account for developers 15-30% of revenue. While Google and Apple have been legally forced to open up their payment processing in some countries, the mobile duopoly has ignored the spirit of these rulings and has not really changed the fees it charges. For third-party payment systems, both App store owners cut commissions by only 3% to 4%, which is about the cost of processing a credit card. The original intention of “saving developers money” is not fulfilled; they can only choose to spend the 3% elsewhere.

Rolling out today in the U.S., Brazil and South Africa, Google says users Opt-in billing is now live in 35 countries. You’ll need to have an app that actually approves the program, though, and Spotify says it’s rolling out the feature in “select markets.”

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