Scrutinizing Apple’s in-app payment system on the App Store is all the rage among government officials nowadays, with multiple countries taking cards in the matter. A new report claims that India’s competition authority has jumped on the Apple regulation bandwagon, too, a move that’ll no doubt bring more attention to an issue the company would rather stop talking about.
TechCrunch reported on Friday that the Competition Commission of India, the country’s antitrust regulator, has ordered an investigation into Apple’s in-app payment system to be carried out over the next 60 days. Apple requires all developers on the App Store to use its in-app payment system and takes between 15% and 30% of all revenues from all purchases.
The commission purportedly began looking into Apple’s practices in September, according to Reuters, after a nonprofit group called the “Together We Fight Society” filed a complaint. In its filling, the group claims that Apple’s commissions on in-app payments raise prices for app developers, subsequently creating barriers for market entry, and users alike.
“The existence of the 30% commission means that some app developers will never make it to the market… This could also result in consumer harm,” Together We Fight Society alleged in its complaint, which was seen by Reuters but is not public.
In addition, the nonprofit also states that Apple’s policy hurts India’s payment processors, which charge much lower commissions than the big tech company.
Apple purportedly asked the commission to drop the nonprofit’s case, TechCrunch stated, because it was too small of a player in India. It does have a point. Out of the 520 million smartphones in India at the end of 2020, only 2% were Apple devices, according to global industry analysis firm Counterpoint Research. Nonetheless, Apple is growing rapidly in the country.
If India turns out to be investigating Apple, it would join a growing number of countries — including the U.S., with the blockbuster Epic v. Apple case — that are looking into the company’s payment system or regulating it outright. Last week, the Netherlands ordered the company to allow dating app developers to offer users alternative payment options, a decision Apple is appealing, or risk a fine of $US56.5 ($78) million.
In Asia, South Korea passed a law this year that bans Apple and Google from forcing developers to use their in-app payment systems. Meanwhile, Japan reached an agreement with Apple that allows reader apps, which include magazines, newspapers, books, music, and videos, worldwide to include a single external link to alternative payment options.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple for comment on Friday to confirm whether it was being investigated by India’s competition authority and ask for comment on the matter, but we did not hear back by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this article if we do.