Google announced Wednesday that it will partner with Spotify to test out third-party billing options for app developers.
The move is a response to the international pressure over fees that Android and Apple collect on transactions in apps on their mobile platforms — pressure that Spotify itself has helped to amp up.
Google, which already launched additional billing systems in South Korea last year in response to the country's landmark app store legislation, said it would be "exploring user choice billing in other select countries" with Spotify and "a small number of participating developers." Spotify users are expected to get access to the options later this year, according to TechCrunch.
"Users who’ve downloaded Spotify from the Google Play Store will be presented with a choice to pay with either Spotify’s payment system or with Google Play Billing," Spotify said in a blog post announcing the news. "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 in the Spotify app."
By routing app transactions through its own systems, Google is able to extract commissions that sometimes range as high as 30%. Anger about the costs on both iOS and Android has prompted lawsuits, including by Epic Games against Google, and another against Apple. It's also spawned legislative proposals in states, Congress and around the world.
Spotify, Epic and other companies were key to pushing for many of the measures, and the companies used blue ribbon hires and a keen eye on the vogue for antitrust scrutiny to go up against the major mobile operating system providers. The move by Google could now tamp down on that pressure.
Users who opt for an alternate billing option will presumably have access to lower-commission payments processing, though there's likely to be ongoing costs for other systems. In the Netherlands, for instance, Apple is charging a 27% fee to developers who want to put in place alternate payment options, although government authorities have fined the company for what they say is noncompliance with the law.
On Monday, Google noted that it would demand any alternative system "meet similarly high safety standards in protecting users’ personal data and sensitive financial information" to Google's own.