Google may face antitrust case in India over payments app

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

The antitrust body of India is looking into some allegations that are Alphabet Inc’s Google is abusing market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app within the country, Around 5 sources familiar with the case told Reuters. The complaint filed in February and the Competition Commission of India (i.e. CCI) has kept the identity of the complainant confidential, the 1st source with direct knowledge of the case told. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment. Two sources said the watchdog informed Google about the case being filed a few days ago and also the company will respond in due course. A source told the case filing is currently being reviewed by senior CCI members. Literally, in such cases, Google will appear before watchdog that will then decide on the way forward.
The CCI can direct investigations unit to conduct a wider probe into the allegations, or can dismiss the case if it finds no merit in it. “It is at a consideration stage,” because the source said. Google Pay also allows the users in India to do inter-bank fund transfers and bill payments as well. Whereas Facebook’s WhatsApp is also planning as a similar service.


Google said on its blog in September, its payments application had rapidly grown in India to reach 67 million monthly active users, driving transactions worth more than $110 billion on an annualized basis. The use of such apps has surged in India.
“The Google antitrust complaint alleges the corporate is in a position to leverage its strong position within the Android market to market the app”, because the first source added. Android mobile operating platforms power about 98 percent of the 490 million smartphones in India and data from Counterpoint Research showed. “The complaint alleges Google is promoting its payment application using search manipulation”, because the source added, without explaining whether the allegations detail how the corporate did so. One of the sources said that users in India have options to select one of the several digital payment apps available on Android, something that is Google can use to defend against complaints about its dominant position. As the Reuters, reported that “the CCI was looking into allegations that WhatsApp was abusing its dominant position by offering the payment services to its vast base of messaging application users in the country”.


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