In a virtual meeting with the MeitY secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney, heads of over two dozen startups, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, conveyed their apprehensions over Google’s increasing dominance and control over internet firms
India will take a ‘holistic’ look at concerns raised by domestic startups over Google’s billing policy and other alleged arbitrary actions of the internet giant that affect the technology companies, a senior government official said.
In a virtual meeting on Saturday with the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney, heads of over two dozen startups, including Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and those of BharatMatrimony, GOQII, MapmyIndia, UpGrad, Sheroes, PhonePe and Dream Sports conveyed their apprehensions over Google’s increasing dominance and control over internet firms.
The founders cited various Google policies, including the ban of fantasy sports from its app store, pre-installation of Google apps on Android phones, and heavy billing commissions on Play Store. They also sought intervention from the government to ensure a level-playing field for all.
Sawhney asked the startup founders to make written submissions of their concerns.
According to the senior official cited above, the ministry is just listening to the grievances at the moment as the issue is at a nascent stage for the government to intervene. A view will be firmed up after deliberations at various levels, including small startups, the official said.
“The government is looking at the issue holistically. It is not just about what the few big startups have to say. The government will have to see and assess what will help the startup ecosystem. While the issues pointed out by the companies could be a point of concern, the situation is not alarming," the official said, requesting not to be named. The matter is a business call for these firms and the government’s role is limited, the official said.
The government is also open to the idea of introducing an Indian App Store, and is considering it based on requests from entrepreneurs. The government has already been ramping up its Mobile Seva App Store, which caters to small businesses and acts as an alternative to Google and Apple app stores. While the store mostly houses government apps currently, Paytm listed itself on the store last week.
Google in a blog post last week reinforced its Play Store policies, which required Android app-developers to leverage the search major’s billing system, for selling digital products and services. Google had said that it will be charging a 30% commission on every transaction made for the sale of a digital product or service.