Google is facing probes in South Korea regarding its in-app payment system, which was forced this year. Photo courtesy of Google

Search giant’s in-app payment system causes controversies

All the controversies started this April when Google introduced a new policy for in-app payment on the Play Store _ the tech giant forced developers to use its own billing system.

And beginning this month, Google started removing non-compliant apps from the Play Store. This prompted criticisms that Google violated the country’s law.

Last week, the Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty (CUCS) asked the Seoul police to investigate the case.

In addition, the civic group said that it had reported Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google Korea CEO Nancy Mable Walker to the police.

“Google’s in-app policy has jacked up costs, thus negatively affecting both consumers and creators,” an insider of the CLCS said.

“The problem is that app developers are forced to follow the Google request as it carves out some 75 percent of the app store market.”

As the insider points out, the real issue behind the mandatory use of Google’s billing system is about new costs as it charges up to a 30-percent commission.

The South Korean government moved fast as it passed a law, which obliges Google and Apple to let developers use alternative payment methods in their app stores.

Google claimed that it had complied with the new rule by coming up with an alternative payment system.

Yet, Korean developers cried foul at Google, arguing that Google’s alternative system is designed to charge up to a 26-percent commission.

Korean users and developers contend that Google should allow external billing systems where the U.S. company does not take any commission.

And it seems that many keep a tab on Google’s new policy.

In April, the Korean Publishers Association filed a complaint with the Fair Trade Commission about Google’s alleged violation of the fair trade law.

There were news reports that the anti-trust watchdog had already launched investigations into the case.

Last month, the Korea Communications Commission said that it had started probes into Google.

“It seems that the world keeps a tab on Korea with regards to the Google billing system,” Prof. Seo Yong-gu at Sookmyung Women’s University said. “The issue is expected to cause controversies for the time being.”

Kevin Chung studied literature in Seoul. He is interested in various areas. He can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.