CCI’s order against Google will ‘benefit and protect’ Indian entrepreneurs, say startups

The Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) decision to impose a
penalty of over Rs 900 crore on Google will ‘benefit and protect’ Indian entrepreneurs from ‘digital colonialism’, said startups such as online matrimony service BharatMatrimony and dating app TrulyMadly.

They said the commission charged by Google makes operating a digital startup unviable.

Founders, however, hoped Google would not find an indirect way to levy commission on the apps.

Google did not offer any immediate comment when contacted.

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“I welcome the CCI verdict because it has clearly indicated that Google abused their dominance,” Murugavel Janakiraman, founder-CEO of BharatMatrimony, told ET. “Google tax is highly constraining to Indian startups and makes running digital startups unviable.”

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Janakiraman said he hoped Google would adhere to the verdict and would not directly or indirectly restrict app developers and payment aggregators.

“We also sincerely hope Google doesn’t try to charge the hefty Google commission of 15% or 30% in any indirect manner to app developers, where the average payment processing charge is around 2%,” he added.

The verdict was a ‘great’ one as it will ‘benefit and protect’ Indian entrepreneurs from ‘digital colonialism,’ said Snehil Khanor, founder and CEO of TrulyMadly.

“(The CCI has said) Google shall not restrict app developers from using third-party billing/payment processing services and shall not restrict app developers from communicating with their users,” Khanor said. “These should have never been restricted in the first place. What remains to be seen is whether Google will obey this order of CCI or find loopholes like it did in South Korea.”

The CCI decision would be a ‘game changer’ for the payments markets, said Naval Chopra and Yaman Verma, partners at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas who represented the confidential informant whose complaint started this case.

“Allowing alternative payment methods will eliminate Google’s monopoly, reduce commissions, and allow app developers to reduce prices and increase innovation. The customer will be the ultimate beneficiary,” they told ET.

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