April 19, 2021

Vijay Shekhar Sharma: Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma and different startup founders take row with Google to CCI doorways

MUMBAI/BENGALURU: India’s antitrust regulator on Friday met with a gaggle of startup founders together with the chief govt of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, to grasp the considerations raised by them over Google’s alleged misuse of market dominance within the nation, two individuals instantly conscious of the matter advised ET.

Founders of Bharat Matrimony, Map My India, Really Madly and nCore Video games have been additionally among the many 13-15 entrepreneurs who attended the assembly with a senior Competitors Fee of India (CCI) official, one of many individuals stated.

They appraised the CCI official of cases the place the US-based tech large may very well be posing a monopoly threat to the nation’s burgeoning app ecosystem, the individuals stated. This comes every week after a bigger group of Indian startup founders met with electronics and IT secretary Ajay Sawhney to precise their considerations over Google’s Play Retailer practices.

The watchdog is conducting an antitrust probe towards Google in India over its alleged abuse of its dominant place within the sensible TV market by blocking corporations eager to develop new options on its Android system.

ET couldn’t verify if the CCI was contemplating any probe into the considerations raised by the startup founders. The fee, Google and Paytm didn’t reply to emails in search of remark until press time Sunday.

“Issues associated to Google’s monopoly and undue management in setting the foundations for the Indian tech startups utilizing its platform was raised within the assembly,” stated the primary individual.

“Totally different founders had totally different grievances. The massive image was how they (Google’s actions) have been affecting the expansion of Indian corporations and abusing the market,” the individual stated.

“Startups from the Nationwide Capital Area went to the CCI bodily. Startups from Mumbai and Bengaluru joined the assembly on a video name,” the second individual stated. “We acknowledge all the nice Google has performed for the world, however it shouldn’t be allowed to be unfair … The CCI was already very a lot conscious and knowledgeable of the problem … It was an excellent assembly.”

The CCI has the powers to provoke an investigation suo moto with out a formal grievance, antitrust lawyer Abir Roy stated.

“Nevertheless, in industrial points, there are few instances the place the CCI has taken suo moto cognisance. It’s to be famous that the CCI may also take cognisance based mostly on complaints made by individuals who could also be instantly affected too for the reason that requirement of locus is not there. As such, it’s not stunning that startups’ hope that the CCI will intervene on their very own,” he stated.

The latest developments, kicked off by the US-based tech behemoth’s non permanent delisting of the nation’s largest fintech app, Paytm, from Play Retailer on September 18 after which asserting a 30% fee on in-app purchases of digital items, has led to an outcry within the ecosystem.

Many startup founders, most notably Paytm’s Sharma, have been alleging that Google’s bundling of providers on its Android OS after which monetising its scale was a “monopoly threat.” In a latest interview with ET, Sharma accused Google of appearing as “over and above the federal government”.

In the meantime, Google has maintained that its enforcement of insurance policies in India was in step with international requirements for safe buyer practices. The tech large’s vp for product administration, Sameer Samat, advised ET earlier this month that the corporate would defer the enforcement of its new commission-based billing coverage in India until not less than April 2022 to verify startups weren’t “unduly pressured.”

Google added that it had arrange “listening classes” with main Indian startups to grasp their considerations extra deeply. Google additionally claims that its new billing coverage would influence solely 3% of the apps on Play Retailer.

The event additionally comes at a time when the ‘Large Tech’ corporations — Google, Apple, Fb and Amazon — are going through probes all over the world with the rising dominance of them on the Web is worrying governments and regulators.