Developers who offer digital goods and services for purchase in-app within Google Play-distributed apps have always been required to use Google Play’s billing system. Users must be able to manage their payments in a centralized location and have safe, dependable payment options in order for them to trust a platform.
It is clarified that language in Payments policy states unequivocally that all developers who sell digital goods and services in their apps must use Google Play’s billing system. Existing apps that use an alternate billing system must be removed in order to comply with this update. Details about compliance timelines and frequently asked questions can be found below.
What is Google Play’s billing system?
The billing system of Google Play allows you to sell digital products and content in your Android app. You can use Google Play’s billing system to sell one-time products or recurring subscriptions. To learn how to integrate Google Play’s billing system, go to the Android Developers site.
Purchases that necessitate the use of Google Play’s billing system
1. Subscription services (for example gaming, education, fitness, dating, music, video, and other content subscription services)
2. Digital items (for example extra lives, extended playtime, virtual currencies, add-on items, characters, or avatars)
3. Cloud services and software (for example data storage services, business productivity software, and financial management software)
4. App’s content and functioning (like app’s ad-free version or exclusive features unavailable in the basic version)
Purchases that are not supported by the billing system of Google Play
- Making a credit card or utility bill payment
- Physical service purchases, such as transportation, airfare, gym memberships, and food delivery
- Purchases or rentals of tangible goods such as groceries, clothing, household goods, and electronics
Google Play’s billing system should not be used for peer-to-peer payments, content that facilitates online gambling, or any product category that Google’s Payments User Policies consider unacceptable.
Timelines for complying
All new apps submitted after January 20, 2021, must comply with the new Payments policy in order to be approved for distribution on Google Play. Any existing app that is currently using an alternative billing system must be removed in order to comply with this update. They’re extending the grace period for these apps until September 30, 2021, in order to make any necessary changes. New and existing apps submitted will have until March 31, 2022, to comply, while new. Given the difficulties of the previous year, Some developers need more time to bring their apps in line with the payment policy. Developers will be able to request an extension, which will be evaluated, with a March 31, 2022 deadline as the latest possible date of compliance. This same form will be used to request for an extension.
Are there alternate ways to make payments?
You are free to communicate with users about alternative purchase options outside of the app. You can provide subscription offers and even special pricing through email marketing and other channels outside of the app.
Developers may not direct users to a payment method other than Google Play’s billing system within an app. This also includes linking straight to a webpage that can lead to an alternate payment method or by using language which encourages users to buy the digital item out of the app.
Is it necessary to use Google Play’s billing system when purchasing goods or services that cannot be used within the app?
The Payments policy of Play only applies to goods and services that are usable within the Play ecosystem. In other words, purchases of digital goods or services that can only be consumed outside of an app and cannot be accessed within an app do not necessitate the use of Google Play’s billing system. Phone ringtones, content that can only be accessed via a website, and apps that manage cloud service platforms but do not provide in-app access to cloud storage are all examples.
Can I issue loyalty or reward points in my app using Google Play’s billing system?
Earned or awarded points can be redeemed in-app rather than through Google Play’s billing system. Users can also use their earned or rewarded points in-app to purchase digital goods and services without having to use Google Play’s billing system. Keep in mind, however, that if these points (or other types of virtual currency) are sold in-app, the Google Play billing system must be used.
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