Google has stopped updating the popular messaging app KakaoTalk in South Korea, according to a local report, after Kakao continued to use an external link for payment in its Android app, which is against Google’s new in-app payment policy. Google’s new policy requires developers who sell digital goods and services to use Google’s main payment system, but Kakao uses an external link to your own website.
This is the first time Google has banned PlayStore users from updating the app since the new payment policy went into effect last month. KakaoTalk can be updated from other app carriers such as Apple AppStore and OneStore, according to a local media report. Now there will be two big questions: will Google turn its attention to stopping updates for other programs that similarly provide external links for payment, or will it go even further and remove them entirely.
“All developers who sell digital goods and services in their apps must use the Google Play billing system,” Google writes in note detailing the new payment policy in the app. “Apps that use an alternative in-app billing system will need to remove it to comply with the payment policy… Beginning June 1, 2022, all apps that are still non-compliant will be removed from Google Play.”
Google said last year, it will comply with alternative billing systems in South Korea, allowing Android app developers to use third-party payment options but offer them alongside Google Play’s own billing system after the country adopted payment law in appendix — the first of its kind in the world — in August last year. This law, by the way, is regularly referred to as the “anti-Google law”.
Developers, however, cannot add links to their own websites in their apps, which would allow their users to buy directly, bypassing Google’s billing entirely.
South Korean app developers and content providers have increased their paid subscriptions and service fees on Google Play due to the hefty 15-30% commissions now required following Google’s policy changes.
Korean Communications Commission said in April that banning app developers from using the web link payment option would violate South Korea’s app payment law, which requires app store operators to allow third-party payments. The KCC told TechCrunch last month that it will be monitoring Google to see if they remove any apps that violate its new policy.
an apple announced last week that developers will have to submit a separate binary for iOS and iPadOS that is “exclusively distributed to the App Store in South Korea” in order to use third-party payment systems for the South Korean App Store.
TechCrunch contacted Kakao, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Google’s move. Google did not respond to requests for comment.