Google introduces a pilot project to allow “a small number of participating developers” to offer a payment system in addition to Google Play. Spotify will be the first and will use both Google Play’s billing system and its own.
“This pilot project will help us better understand if and how user choice billing works for users in different countries and for developers of different sizes and categories,” said Sameer Samat of Google. said in a blog post. It’s unclear how many more developers will be part of the program or when the ability for more developers to use external billing systems will become more widely available. We asked Google if they could share more information.
Samat said the feature builds on its plans to enable additional billing systems in South Korea, which Google made in response to legislation passed in South Korea last year. Apple must also allow third-party payment systems in the country due to legislation, and the company has pledged to do so.
Apple and Google have come under heavy criticism from developers and lawmakers over the fees they charge for purchases made in their stores. And Spotify has been a vocal critic of Apple’s App Store fees for years, even filing an “Apple tax” antitrust complaint against the company in 2019. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the company to be Google’s first known partner on this new initiative.
In a blog post, Spotify detailed what users can expect from the new systems when they become available:
Users who downloaded Spotify from the Google Play Store will have the option of paying with Spotify’s payment system or with Google Play Billing. For the first time, these two options will live side by side in the app. This will give everyone the freedom to subscribe and make purchases using the payment option of their choice directly within the Spotify app. Spotify will continue to communicate freely with users about our Premium subscription service, promote discounts and promotions, and give our Free tier listeners the option to upgrade to Premium directly within the app.
Over the next few months, Spotify will work with Google’s product and engineering teams to create this new experience, and we’ll be rolling it out to countries around the world. By working together, the companies will test and learn, jointly exploring product innovations on the Android platform. We plan to launch the first iteration of User Choice Billing later this year.
It’s unclear whether Apple plans to allow external payment systems outside of South Korea in response to Google’s announcement on Wednesday. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.