Google’s South Korean operation has decided to comply with the country’s new law which prohibits it from restricting payments on its own Play Store, whether to pay for apps or in-app purchases.
The law was enacted in September and was the first such legislation in the world. As such, it’s of considerable interest, as both Google and Apple have spent years saying that allowing third-party payments would compromise user safety. Epic Games, which unilaterally activated their own payment options for their iOS apps, called Apple’s unfair monopolization issue.
South Korean media have reported Google Country Director Kim Kyung-hoon appeared before the National Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee yesterday and said, “While there are areas that are regrettable, we respect the law”.
A Google spokesperson said The register these reports are correct.
“We intend to comply with Korean law and will continue to examine options that allow us to maintain the service fees that keep Android free and to sustain our investments in the ecosystem. We will be sharing more with the developers in the coming weeks, “the spokesperson added.
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It’s not just a confirmation that Google will comply with the law, rather than trying to fight it, but also a tacit admission that Google doesn’t see insurmountable technical barriers to making the necessary changes.
The declaration is not without threat, however. Google’s arguments against the Korean law included the fact that taking a 30% slice of the price of digital products funds its development of Android and the Play Store.
The fact that the company “is looking at options that allow us to keep the service charges that keep Android free” suggests it isn’t just going to flip a switch and let third-party payment systems run wild.
Google and Apple are under pressure from regulators and their competitors to allow third-party payments. Microsoft is leading the charge for the latter group, having recently reduced the cut it is taking in its stores and allowing third-party storefronts.
Regulators in Europe, the United States and Australia continue to investigate whether app stores distort markets in ways that harm consumers. ®