Restricted Access to the Market
The issue: Apple and Google are restricting how users pay for in-app purchases for digital goods.
This unfair practice locks third party payments providers like GlobalCharge out of in-app payments for digital services—stifling business growth, while Apple and Google maintain their own monopoly. In fact, GlobalCharge have never been allowed to access the Apple app store, as the monopolists have never allowed third party payment processors to operate within their ecosystem.
Google did initially allow this, which in 2011 enabled GlobalCharge to introduce an accredited in-app billing solution on the Android platform through direct carrier billing. Yet, as one would expect with unchecked tech-giant power, in 2012 Google changed their terms to include a ‘concession’ to only permit certain app developers, those offering content that could be consumed both on AND off the handset, to use third party payment providers such as GlobalCharge. GlobalCharge was successful in this space with clients benefitting from flexible ‘one-click’ payment flows, split billing and smart re-try technology, all features not available through Apple and Google, again demonstrating the innovations that companies could make to improve the consumer experience if the archaic restrictions of Apple and Google were not stifling innovation.
Despite the positive move made by Google, many of the companies which were allowed to use third party payment providers stopped doing so, due to fear of reprisals from Google, so GlobalCharge was left trying to create revenue from the scraps Google had left them. In 2021, Google withdrew the above ‘concession’, forcing developers to revert back to Google’s payment method, leaving GlobalCharge in the lurch. This action has had a hugely detrimental impact to the company’s financial circumstances and continues to support the anti-competitive nature of huge tech companies.
Forced to Adapt to Survive
Better competition will enable GlobalCharge to access the ecosystem, and operate in the in-app payments space, providing customers with the choice in how they pay. Currently, GlobalCharge transaction fees are around 4%, compared to the 30% charged by Apple and Google—this would consequently provide much better value for both app developers and consumers alike—and help innovative companies like GlobalCharge experience record growth.
Apple and Google argue that preventing consumer harm is the reason for these restrictions and high charges. In our experience their controls lacked many of the key features GlobalCharge adopted to prevent consumer harm, such as velocity checking, daily/weekly/monthly spending limits, age verification and more—which fundamentally negates the flawed claims of Apple and Google.