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Google loosens rules on Play Store payments to comply with South Korean law

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In response to a law passed earlier this year in South Korea, Google said on Thursday it will enable Android app developers to add an alternative in-app billing system for people in the country for both mobile and tablet apps.

The change comes as Google and Apple face pressure from regulators around the globe, who have accused the tech giants of abusing their power in the mobile market to control app developers. South Korea’s new law prohibits tech giants like Google and Apple from requiring developers to use their in-app purchase systems, allowing developers to choose different payment platforms or to even create their own.

“At checkout, users will be able to choose which billing system to use,” Google said in its statement today. “In the coming weeks and months, we will share implementation details for developers, including instructions for submitting security and customer service verifications and a set of user experience guidelines so users can make an informed choice.”

Google’s change comes amid its ongoing legal battle with Fortnite developer Epic Games, which has alleged both Google and Apple are too controlling of their respective app stores. The tech giants typically take up to 30% of each transaction that occurs within apps downloaded from their respective app stores, though both companies have said they’ll reduce fees for some developers. In September, Apple largely won a legal battle against Epic Games. Looking to that decision, Google in October countersued Epic.

While Google says it “respects” South Korea’s new law and will comply, it continues to defend its payment system and service fee by reiterating that maintaining its payment system costs money and provides app developers with security protections, subscription management and parental controls they may not otherwise have. Google also made clear that people in South Korea won’t be able to use Google Play gift cards and Play Points if users opt to use a different payment platform offered by app developers.

Apple hasn’t yet announced plans for how it plans to comply with South Korea’s new law. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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