Spotify launches User Choice Billing pilot on Android

Spotify has begun testing User Choice billing on Android devices in select markets, reports The Verge. Earlier this year, Google announced it would pilot a project that would allow users to bypass Google Play billing in favour of their own payment choices. Google will still receive a percentage of these payments, however. According to a Spotify newsroom post, “Google has taken a bold step to help level the playing field, but this is just the beginning. Going forward, Android users will soon be able to choose how to pay for their Spotify subscription in the way that best suits them.”  

On Google’s Android Developers blog, more information about the User Choice Billing pilot was shared. Written by Paul Feng, Google’s VP of Product Management, the post goes on to say, “at the heart of this pilot is our belief that the best way to offer alternative billing for in-app purchases is to put the choice in the hands of users.” Dating app Bumble has joined as the second major app involved in testing the initiative. The pilot will run in 33 countries, with users in these territories expected to see the User Choice Billing option in-app in the coming months. Games are currently ineligible for the pilot.

The FAQ section on the pilot also hints toward the percentage that Google will receive from payments made through the User Choice Billing option, stating “when a consumer chooses to use an alternative billing system, the service fee the developer pays will be reduced by 4%.” Google has received criticism in the past for the commission it takes from in-app purchases on Android via Google Pay billing. 

Earlier this year, Epic Games took Google to court over the compulsory implementation of its Google Pay system for in-app purchases on Bandcamp, which would have seen Bandcamp pay Google 30% of its revenue as commission. This was over and above the 82% Bandcamp pays out to labels and artists, proving to be a clause that could have potentially destroyed the online record store. Epic Games ultimately reached an agreement with Google, allowing them to retain Bandcamp’s PayPal integration.