Google is introducing a pilot to let “a small number of participating developers” offer a payment system in addition to Google Play’s. Spotify will be the first and will use both Google Play’s billing system and its own.
“This pilot will help us to increase our understanding of whether and how user choice billing works for users in different countries and for developers of different sizes and categories,” Google’s Sameer Samat said in a blog post. It’s unclear how many other developers will be a part of the program or when the ability for more developers to use outside billing systems will be available more widely. We’ve asked Google if it can share more information.
Samat says the feature builds on its plans to allow 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 as a result of the legislation, and the company has committed to doing so.
Apple and Google have come under intense criticism from developers and legislators over the fees they take from purchases on their stores. And Spotify has been a vocal critic of Apple’s App Store fees for years, even filing an antitrust complaint over the “Apple tax” against the company in 2019. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the company is the first known partner with Google on this new initiative.
In a blog, Spotify detailed what users can expect from the new systems when they are available:
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. 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. Spotify will continue to freely communicate with users about our Premium subscription service, promote discounts and promotions, and give listeners on our Free tier the ability to convert to Premium directly in the app.
Over the coming months, Spotify will work with Google’s product and engineering teams to build this new experience, and we’ll roll out in countries around the world. Working together, the companies will test and learn, jointly exploring product innovations across the Android platform. We anticipate launching the first iteration of User Choice Billing later this year.
It’s unclear if Apple is planning to allow outside payment systems outside of South Korea in response to Google’s announcement made Wednesday. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.