Indian government is all set to help Indian app developers if they come out with an alternate Indian app store which is as good, reliable and robust as Google and Apple app stores.

The two US based tech giants Google and Apple seem to be up for making their dominance felt in the digital services market. On Monday, Google announced its new commission policy and said that it would charge 30% commission for all in-app purchases. The Indian entrepreneurs and app based digital service providers are certainly not happy about this.

A group of entrepreneurs held a meeting last Tuesday that was joined by Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Yashish Dahiya of Policybazaar and Murugavel Janakiraman of Matrimony.com, Vishwas Patel – founder of payment gateway ccAvenue, founders of Innov8, Sharechat and others. They said that the meeting was an informal one and the purpose was to gather entrepreneurs and stakeholders to collate all issues arising out of Google’s new policy and head on with the right approach. The group insisted on batting for an alternate large scale app hosting platform. They also agreed to approach the finance ministry and the regulator to seek redressal of the new payment policy of Google that would charge apps 30% for all purchases.

Google insists that its globally enforced new policy would impact just 3% of all the apps in the ecosystem and that businesses may redirect users to their own websites to download or even use third-party app stores if they wish.

“If India has net neutrality, why can’t we have app neutrality,” said Janakiraman, who added that over 80% of those accessing the internet in India do so through digital applications and “it can’t be completely controlled by Google since they own the Play Store. A body monitored by the government can ensure app neutrality, fairness and openness.”

Vishwas Patel, founder of payment gateway CCAvenue, said,
“The government has to certainly step in and take the lead on this. If there is some kind of restriction imposed due to geopolitical tensions, an Indian app store can save the day for everyone,” said Patel who is also the chairman of the Payments Council of India, a payments-centred industry body.” 

The founders met to identify the right authorities that they could approach, such as the Ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY), National Payments Corporation Of India (NPCI), The Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Competition Commission Of India (CCI) to seek help on several relevant grievances.

Google sources said that the facts related to Google Pay being a mandatory payment channel has been misrepresented. The sources who did not wish to be identified said:

“Any UPI app can be used, and it’s not restricted to only Google Pay. People have confused Google Play billing with Google Pay billing,”

Google has reiterated the fact that it will deduct 30% commission for all in-app purchases for digital goods. While this will not impact physical deliveries such as ecommerce, food delivery or ride-hailing firms, it will dent the revenues of dating, education, video and music-on-demand, and other apps that rely on subscriptions from users.

The Indian entrepreneurs held the idea of how the NPCI, which is an initiative by India’s central bank in partnership with private banks, has broken the duopoly of foreign credit / debit card companies by introducing RuPay. Rupay is used by over 630 million people in India which the highest number of consumers compared to any foreign card company.

The outcry for an Indian app store is not going on deaf ears and the government is keen to address the issues and two officials have taken note of this and confirmed the ET.

The Union Minister of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government is open to suggestions from Indian entrepreneurs and app developers. It is not averse to the idea of having an #AatmaNirbhar App Store.

Currently, the government has a central app storage platform for e-Governance apps, developed by the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) that hosts the famous COVID-19 tracker app Aarogya Setu, Digilocker, Umang and others.

Government officials said the issue (of overseas tech giants dominating India’s digital app sector) emerges from the fact that Google’s Android operating system has a “98% market share” in the smartphone segment in India whereas it’s much lower in other countries including the US. “The problem of monopoly is very acute,” said the person, adding that Google receives user and usage data about other apps listed on its Play Store and, also competes with them through its own offerings.

The Challenges

Developing an app store is not an easy task. It requires suggestions from several experienced entrepreneurs, app developers, hosting experts and other stakeholders. App security related threat neutralizers, in-depth scanning, competitive pricing strategy, ease of use and other angles need to be taken into consideration. Google spends billions of dollars into app security and has actually build huge libraries for app development over the years. Given the fact that 98% market share in India is that of Android based mobile phones. The game is “Android is owned by Google”.

The huge set of Google libraries helps app developers build new apps quickly and resolve app related issues in a rapid environment. The resources are really helpful and more inviting to any app developer or an app based business owner.

Competing with Google Play Store, Apple app stores would be another big challenge for years.

By Vinay Puri

Vinay is the Chief Editor at Red Newswire with over 12 years of experience in writing for startups, business , finance, politics and more. He also writes for Truth Indian and several other blogs. Though he is a graduate in Computer Science Engineering from Visweswararaya Technological University (VTU) Bengaluru, his passion for writing and expressing his views in an unbiased approach is more than that of a software developer by profession. He is a regular follower of startup news and is keen on all that keeps happening in the business environment and the startup ecosystem.