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Indian startups meet to review Google PlayStore policy; mull setting up Aatmanirbhar forum

Indian startups meet to review Google PlayStore policy; mull setting up Aatmanirbhar forum
Several members of the Indian startup ecosystem came together over a virtual meeting on Tuesday to protest against Google's PlayStore billing policy and called for setting up an industry body, sources told CNBC-TV18.
The proposed association has tentatively been named as the Aatmanirbhar Digital India Foundation, sources said.
Google on Monday reiterated its PlayStore billing policy which entails a 30 percent fee on all in-app purchases, and all payments for in-app purchases will have to be routed through Google's PlayStore billing platform.
Founders of leading internet companies such as Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm, Yashish Dahiya of Policy Bazaar, Murugavel Janakiraman of Matrimony.com, Vishwas Patel of CCAvenue, and founders of ShareChat and Innov8 were part of the meeting on Tuesday, sources said.
Apart from Janakiraman and Patel, none of the other members offered any comments on the meeting or confirmed their presence.
"Several industry members got together to protect Indian startups against Google’s monopoly," Patel, who is also chairman of the Payments Council of India said.
"Yes, there was a meeting. We are looking at various things. Over 50 internet founders participated in the call. An industry body will be formed in the near future," Janakiraman said.
Anand Lunia, founding partner of India Quotient also told CNBC-TV18 that many in the industry were looking at a joint approach on Google's dominance. "We are trying to get together and trying to form a common forum," Lunia said on CNBC-TV18's Startup Street.
"The question is, where do we go. There are multiple reasons for founders to get together and there are multiple forums. It didn’t take much for us to get together, but the challenge is where do we go," he added.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), of which Google is also a part, issued a statement on Tuesday calling for a meeting of its members to understand concerns.
Some of the concerns raised against Google's policy were that they contradict the current policies on UPI, with the government stating last December that no charges can be levied on UPI transactions. Last month, CBDT also directed banks to refund any charges collected on UPI or RuPay transactions after January 1, 2020.
"Google should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations which are contrary to our country's laws. They cannot force Indian app developers to use the Google billing system and charge 30 percent MDR," Patel said.
"Google is going against all principles of UPI," Lunia said.
"We have always been deeply vested in facilitating startup ecosystem growth, with numerous outreach programs that offer mentorship and guidance to a wide spectrum of developers. Consumer spend on apps and games created by Indian developers has doubled year to date, when compared to the same period last year. Indian developers also saw growth of more than 80 percent in consumer spend from users outside of India YTD, when compared to the same period last year, and we remain committed to supporting Indian developers to succeed globally," said Google in a statement.
"Choice is central to Android -- the Google Play billing policy only applies to developers that implement in-app purchases of digital goods. Developers are welcome to implement digital purchases outside of Google Play Billing and continue to reach global audiences through Play Store, without any service fee," it added.
The issue of App Store policies has been raging in Silicon Valley, with reports suggesting that Fortnite, Spotify and other companies were forming an alliance to demand changes to these policies.
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