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Google will temporarily let Match use alternate payment systems ahead of 2023 trial

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Google has reached an interim agreement with Match Group, the dating app provider behind Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid, that will allow its apps to remain on the Google Play Store while offering alternate payment systems, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, Match Group filed a complaint against Google, alleging the company “illegally monopolized the market for distributing apps” by requiring app developers to use Google’s billing system and then taking up to a 30 percent cut on any in-app purchases. Match Group later sought a temporary restraining order against Google, but withdrew its request on Friday after Google made some concessions.

In addition to Google’s promise that it won’t block or remove Match Group’s apps from the Play Store for using third-party payment systems, Google must make a “good faith” effort to build “additional billing system features that are important to Match Group.” Match has also agreed to work towards offering Google’s billing system as an option in its apps.

Instead of paying Google a commission for payments that occur outside of its billing system, Match has set up a $40 million escrow fund until an official agreement has been reached, and is required to keep track of all the fees it would’ve owed Google starting July 1st. Both companies are set to go to trial in April 2023. Google says it plans on filing a countersuit against Match for allegedly breaching its Developer Distribution Agreement in the meantime.

Just like Match, the Epic Games-owned Bandcamp is also entrenched in a legal battle against Google. Last month, Epic filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Google from taking the music storefront off of its app store for using its own billing system.

On Friday, Bandcamp announced that it reached an agreement similar to the one Match made with Google, which also allows Bandcamp to stay on the Google Play Store while using its own payment system. The music platform says it will place 10 percent of its proceeds from purchases made on Android in an escrow fund until Epic’s broader antitrust lawsuit against Google moves forward. Epic launched a similar lawsuit against Apple in 2020 after the company removed Fortnite from the App Store for using an alternate billing system — the final ruling determined no real winner.

Match Group and Epic Games are both members of the Coalition of App Fairness (CAF), a group of companies that fight against policies it views as anticompetitive, including Google and Apple’s rules that discourage developers from using alternate payment processors on their respective app stores. In March, Google announced that Spotify — another CAF member — would become the first platform to test using its own payment system (in addition to Google’s) on the Play Store.

Google and Apple have come under fire for their app store policies by both developers and government regulators in various countries. In February, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Open App Markets Act, a bill geared toward promoting competition in mobile computing, while the EU is set to enforce its own set of laws to regulate Big Tech in spring 2023. The Netherlands has also taken issue with Apple’s in-app payment policies, and South Korea has enacted legislation requiring both Google and Apple to let developers use third-party payment systems in their apps.

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