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India Looks Into Antitrust Claims Against Google Pay

 |  February 21, 2021

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has started an investigation to check whether Google Pay (GPay) has abused its dominance of India’s digital payments market, executives at three payment firms aware of the discussions said.

The market watchdog is holding face-to-face interviews with rival payment firms, including PhonePe and Paytm Payments Bank, as part of the probe, the executives said seeking anonymity.

Through its meetings, CCI will seek to understand whether Google is giving users the choice to pay through other payment instruments in addition to GPay. It will also try to ascertain whether Google is leveraging user data on its platform to gain unfair advantage for its own payment platform and also if it has created restrictions for other payment firms to gain unfair advantage. CCI will also check if Google is abiding by the government’s zero-merchant discount rate (MDR) policy.

The executives cited above said while CCI ordered the probe on GPay last November, a formal investigation began in January with the appointment of an additional director general to the antitrust case.

“CCI is still at a nascent point of the investigation and is trying to approach the matter from the perspective of app bundling with the Android OS, search manipulations where Google Pay appears on the top when a user searches for a payment use-case such as recharge on (Google search); and leveraging Google properties and data such as YouTube and Play Store to plant advertisements for its payment service, through ad personalization,” said one of the three executives cited above.

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