It appears Google is finally putting its foot down when it comes to third-party payment processing in its official app store — the company has sent out an email to Android developers outlining several updates to the Google Play program policy, including a small but significant update to its payment policies.
“We’re making it explicit for applications and in-app purchases that developers are required to use the Google Play payment system,” said Chris Yerga, engineering director for Google Play when asked about the changes.
Although Yerga points out that Google will still make exceptions for apps that sell physical goods or services such as movie tickets, developers of most apps will now have to use Google’s official channels, rather than alternative payment providers like PayPal, Boku or BoxPay.
Developers will have 30 days to bring their existing apps into compliance, but new applications submitted to Google Play will be subject to Google’s new policies immediately. Apps that don’t comply will be subject to removal from the Google Play store, just like any other app that Google finds to be in violation of its terms of service, says Yerga.
Although Google has always mandated the use of its official Google Wallet payment system, the company hasn’t always been strict about enforcing the policy.
“We actually have been enforcing our payments around payments historically, but there’s been certain exceptions,” explains Yerga. “Before we had subscriptions, if someone was dependent on an application that required subscriptions, we were a little more lenient. Here we want to make things explicit about what’s included and what’s not included. The baseline default is we require applications to use the Google payment system.”
Today’s announcement isn’t likely to surprise many Android developers. Reuters reported Google was looking to take a more strict approach to enforcing payment standard back in March, stating several developers had been warned about their continued use of third-party payment providers. At the time Google denied the report, telling TechCrunch it hadn’t changed its policies, and saying the whole story was a “non-starter.”
The full text of today’s email to developers is below.
Hello Google Play Developer,
We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers. This requires us to update our policies when we launch new features, like subscription billing, and also when we see unhealthy behavior, like deceptive app names and spammy notifications. This email is to notify you that we’ve made some changes to our policies which are highlighted below.
- We’ve added clearer details to the payment policy, and guidelines on how we will handle cancellations in our new subscription billing feature
- We are restricting the use of names or icons confusingly similar to existing system apps in order to reduce user confusion
- We are providing more detail on the kinds of dangerous products that are not allowed on Google Play. For example, apps that disclose personal information without authorization are not allowed.
- We are giving more examples of practices that violate the spam policy.
Additionally, we are adding a new section that addresses ad behavior in apps. First, we make it clear that ads in your app must follow the same rules as the app itself. Also, it is important to us that ads don’t negatively affect the experience by deceiving consumers or using disruptive behavior such as obstructing access to apps and interfering with other ads.
Please take a look at the Google Play Developer Program Policy to see all the changes and make sure your app complies with our updated policies.
Any new apps or app updates published after this notification will be immediately subject to the latest version of the Program Policy. If you find any existing apps in your catalog that don’t comply, we ask you to fix and republish the application within 30 calendar days of receiving this email. After this period, existing applications discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play.
Google Play Team