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Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.bloomberg
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.bloomberg

Indian startup developers will form an independent group: Vijay Shekhar Sharma

  • Paytm boss also alleged that Google’s Play Store billing will be routed through Google Pay, its Indian payment arm, which brings in the debate of colliding with unfair practices for ‘wilful gains’

As founders’ angst against search giant Google grows, Paytm boss Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Thursday in a media briefing said that India’s technology ecosystem is looking to form an ‘independent congregation’ to fight global technology conglomerates including Google and Facebook.

“We as a group Indian startup developers group will come together to make an independent congregation," said Sharma.

It may be noteworthy that startups have independently held several meetings and reached out to the ministry of information and technology (MeitY) raising concerns about the growing monopoly and dominance of Google on India’s technology ecosystem.

“They (Google) cannot be a single gatekeeper to the whole Indian internet ecosystem, especially when they claim to be a non-Indian entity. This is similar to the ‘salt movement’ which India fought where salt was taxed. Similarly now, Google is taxing the entire technology landscape, arbitrarily for just providing a platform," said Sharma.

He also added that Google has become a toll collector, rather than an ecosystem enabler.

“If they are charging 30% of commissions for just providing Play Store, as a platform, they should at least offer customer care service to Indian apps," said Sharma.

Several Indian founders, whose apps have been taken down by Google, in the past have complained about a similar problem - around no immediate grievance support being available, since Google’s Play Store team is based in the US.

“We are launching a movement today to free the internet today, which is controlled by Google. More than 95% of India’s digital users access the internet through Google. But, for what reason do we have to give Google a commission? Is it just for distribution of our apps? There’s a sword hanging on our head and they can ‘arbitrarily’ change their policies, according to their whim. This commission (or tax) is ‘atrocious’ and now we need to free the internet from the glitches of Google," said Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder-CEO of Matrimony.com Ltd.

Janakiraman also adds that with every digital service in the country have to pay this commission, Indian digital goods will become even more expensive as startups will have to factor the 30% compulsory Google Play Store billing commission.

“This is almost like we (Matrimony) charging 30% every time a couple meets and weds through us," said Janakiraman.

Now, founders state that this fight against Google and the big tech won’t stop until they are regulated under Indian laws.

“Earlier, we were disjointed in our approach, but now all of us have come together to fight these technology giants. No, longer can they have a ‘divide’ and rule policy since we are united. And this is not just a fight against google but also Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, which keep spreading fake news and slander. The crux of the problem is that they do npt follow the rules of India, and get away by saying that they are not regulated by Indian laws," said Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO, GOQii, which has filed a defamation suit against Twitter, and is fighting the case in the Bombay City Civil Court.

On Thursday, to support India’s indigenous developer ecosystem, Paytm launched its 10 crore developer fund, which will work as an incubator to support Indian app-creators.

The fund will help these developers also further the reach of their mini-app ecosystem on Paytm, and will be accessible immediately, Sharma added.

“We will be ramping up our investment team for this developer fund," said Sharma.

Sharma also alleged that Google’s Play Store billing will be routed through Google Pay, its Indian payment arm, which brings in the debate of colliding with unfair practices for ‘wilful gains’.

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