Google launches alternative Play Store billing systems in more countries

Google Play Store home page on Android and Chrome OS
(Image credit: Android Central)

Update (September 3, 12:47 pm ET): The article has been updated to correct a factual error that stated that developers in the United States would be unable to participate in the pilot. Developers from any country will be able to enroll in the program, and the restriction only applies to the country in which the user resides. Our apologies.

What you need to know

  • Google has announced the expansion of its user choice billing enrollment in some countries.
  • The new billing system allows developers to offer alternative methods in their apps as long as the Play Store billing system remains an option.
  • However, the pilot program is not yet available in the United States, and there are some restrictions.

Criticisms over its Play Store billing system forced Google to partner with Spotify earlier this year on an alternative method, which is now being expanded to developers in more countries.

Google has quietly opened the enrollment for its user choice billing program, allowing developers to offer alternative payment methods in their apps alongside the contentious Play Store billing system (via 9to5Google). However, various restrictions are in place, chief of which is that only non-game developers will be able to enroll in the pilot.

Furthermore, user choice billing can only be offered to users in the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan. This means the U.S. market will need to wait a while longer, with Google keeping silent on when the program will launch in the country.

The user choice billing system was first launched in March of this year, with Spotify as the first partner. The expansion allows developers that are registered businesses to take part in the pilot. In doing so, they will see their service fee paid to Google reduced by 4% if a user opts into their alternative billing system.

Google currently takes a 15% commission on the first $1 million in revenue from in-app purchases per year, after which it will return to 30%.

Aside from the app category restriction, there are several conditions that developers must meet in order to offer alternative billing methods. For payments made with debit or credit cards, they must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). Developers must also provide support in the event of customer complaints or inquiries. 

Developers are prohibited from "disabling or enabling user choice billing in a particular app or country" without first informing Google. Changes to app enrollment preferences will take effect on the first day of the following month. If you're a non-game developer, you can sign up by completing this billing declaration form.

While the pilot only accepts non-gaming apps for now, Google stated that the pilot will "evolve as we learn more and receive additional feedback."

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.