In a significant move, PhonePe has introduced the Indus AppStore Developer Platform, positioning itself to attract Android developers in India, Google’s largest market, by offering zero platform fees and eliminating commissions on in-app purchases.
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This fintech startup, backed by Walmart and headquartered in Bengaluru, boasts over 450 million registered users on its payment app and is now actively inviting developers to register and upload their apps to this ‘made-in-India’ app store.
PhonePe’s app store, developed in collaboration with phonemakers for distribution, offers a plethora of locally relevant features, including support for third-party payment providers, availability in 12 Indian languages, and a user-friendly phone number-based login system. PhonePe intends to waive the listing fee for developers during the first year, after which it will introduce a “nominal” cost. Notably, PhonePe will not impose any commission on in-app purchases, a stark contrast to Google’s hefty 15-30% charge.
To further support local developers, PhonePe has established a dedicated India-based team to address concerns that include Google’s delayed responses and operating hours aligned with the U.S. timezone.
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This move comes at a time when numerous Indian businesses and startups have grown increasingly dissatisfied with Google’s practices, despite the company’s Android OS dominating over 95% of smartphones in India. App developers in India have been constrained to rely on a single app store for distributing their apps. PhonePe’s Indus Appstore Developer Platform aims to provide them with a credible alternative, with a strong emphasis on localization and enhanced app discovery and engagement.
PhonePe’s initiative follows the footsteps of previous endeavors by Indian entrepreneurs to challenge the exorbitant fees imposed by Google Play Store. Some Indian businesses have sought government intervention, and there has even been a collaborative effort led by Paytm to establish a mini app store.
PhonePe is optimistic that the support of Indian regulatory authorities, combined with their efforts to encourage Google to accept third-party app stores and incorporate features tailored to local needs, such as real-time analytics and comprehensive industry trend insights, will yield more successful results compared to past attempts.
India remains a pivotal overseas market for Google, which has invested over $10 billion in the country over the past decade. However, Google has faced regulatory scrutiny and antitrust fines in India, necessitating adjustments in its business agreements with phonemakers and partners.
PhonePe’s app store represents a crucial component of its broader expansion strategy, which includes ventures into e-commerce and the recent launch of Share.Market, an app facilitating stock trading, mutual fund investments, and ETF transactions.