India's antitrust body- The Competition Commission of India has initiated a probe into the allegations that Alphabet Inc's Google is abusing its market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app in the country, five sources familiar with the case told Reuters.
The complaint in this regard was filed in February 2020. Interestingly the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has kept the identity of the complainant confidential. It was alleged in the complaint that Google is prominently showcasing its Google Pay app inside its Android app store in India, which gives it an unfair advantage over other apps of competitors. This also has the potential of hurting consumers.
It has been confirmed from the sources that the case is currently reviewed by senior officers of CCI and things will only become clear when Google will appear before the Competition watchdog. There are two possibilities, either the CCI can direct its investigations unit to conduct a wider probe into the allegations, or dismiss the case if it doesn’t find merit into it.
This is the third major antitrust challenge that Google is about to face. In 2018, the CCI had fined Google USD 21 million for "search bias", but Google has appealed against that order, and the matter is still is pending. The CCI last year also started probing Google for allegedly misusing its dominant position to reduce the ability of smartphone manufacturers to opt for alternate versions of its Android mobile operating system.
As a matter of fact, Google Pay allows its users in India to do inter-bank fund transfers and bill payments. In India's crowded digital payments market, its market competitors are Softbank-backed Paytm and Walmart's PhonePe. Facebook's WhatsApp is also planning to enter into the game.
Data from Counterpoint Research had shown that in India android mobile operating platforms power around 98% of the 490 million smartphones and this is the reason, Google is able to leverage its strong position in the Android market to promote the app.
Users in India have options to select one of the several digital payment apps available on Android, and Google can use this point to defend itself in an upcoming probe.