India watchdog fines Google $113 million in second antitrust penalty this month

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Alphabet Inc’s Google was fined 9.36 billion Indian rupees ($113.04 million) on Tuesday as India concluded yet another antitrust probe this month, finding the US tech giant guilty of abusing its market position to promote its payments app and in-app payment system.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google forced app developers to use its in-app payment system, noting selling of in-app digital goods makes up an important means for developers to monetize their work.

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CCI’s move is the latest setback for Google in one of its priority markets, where it was fined another $162 million by the former on Thursday for anticompetitive practices related to Android. Google is also facing a separate probe into its business conduct in the Indian smart TV market.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest order. It had called CCI's Thursday decision “a major setback for Indian consumers and businesses,” adding it will review the order and decide next steps.

“The Commission hereby directs Google to cease and desist from indulging in anti-competitive practices,” CCI said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said Google should not restrict app developers from using any third-party billing or payment processing services, either for in-app purchases or for purchasing apps.

Google has faced criticism globally for mandating that software developers using its app store must use a proprietary in-app payment system that charges commissions of up to 30 percent on purchases made within an app. Of late, the company has begun to allow alternative payment systems in more countries.

Google’s Android operating system powers 97 percent of India’s 600 million smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research.

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