Google blocks updates to popular South Korean app over third-party billing

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KakaoTalk’s messaging app has been downloaded over 100 million times and is lagging in updates

Google has long been skeptical about its billing rules on the Play Store, but announced tougher enforcement in 2020. Not all developers were happy with the change, which prohibited bypassing the Google Pay system. Epic filed a (separate) lawsuit, and South Korean lawmakers passed the In-App Payments Act, colloquially known as the “Anti-Google Act.” Now that the rules are in force, it’s being tested.according to local reportthe popular KakaoTalk app cannot send updates because it contains a link to a payment website instead of integrating with the Play Store payment platform.

At the heart of this controversy is how developers have traditionally been expected to hand over significant amounts of revenue to Google (or Apple) for each in-app transaction. Over the past few years, this fee has been a flat 30%, which many felt was excessive. Share to the platform has been declining for certain types of content, with most developers now qualifying for a 15% share, according to Google. However, South Korea is the first country in the world to mandate that app developers be allowed to offer third-party payment options that reduce remittances to Google and Apple. The developer still has to pay for the service, but Google is reducing his service fee by 4% to make up for the cost of using a third-party payment processor.

sk play store billing

KakaoTalk is in hot water with Google because it still has old-fashioned links to websites where users can purchase premium items outside of Google’s short number Money goes to Google. Google’s new Korean policy allows third-party payments, but requires the developer to add those options alongside his Google options (see above). KakaoTalk doesn’t do that, which is why Google blocks app updates. Perhaps other apps that do the same thing will hit similar blocks in the near future.

As far as the law goes, this seems like a gray area, but regulators may choose to side with developers. After all, there’s a reason people call it an “anti-Google law.” We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update if we hear back.

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