New Delhi: Google has taken action against several Indian matrimony apps on its Play Store platform due to a fee dispute with local startups. The disagreement stems from efforts by these startups to resist Google’s imposition of fees ranging from 11% to 26% on in-app payments, following orders from India’s antitrust authorities to revise its previous fee structure of 15% to 30%.

The apps affected include popular ones like Bharat Matrimony, with Google removing them from the platform. This move could potentially escalate tensions between Google and Indian startup firms. Despite court decisions in January and February that favored Google’s right to enforce fees or remove apps, startups have expressed discontent, with Matrimony.com’s founder calling it a “dark day of Indian Internet.”

Shares of Matrimony.com and Info Edge, which operates Jeevansathi, dipped after the news broke. Google’s notices of Play Store violations were sent to Matrimony.com and Info Edge, who are currently evaluating their options. In response, Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani affirmed compliance with Google’s policies, noting that pending invoices had been settled promptly.

In a blog post, Google defended its actions, stating that several Indian companies had opted not to pay for the value they receive on Google Play, emphasizing its right to charge fees. This development might provoke the Indian startup community, which has long contested Google’s practices. Google asserts that its fee supports investments in the app store and Android operating system, ensuring free distribution and covering developer tools and analytics. Only a small fraction of Indian developers on the platform are subject to service fees, according to Google.

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