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The Google LLC logo is seen at the Google Store Chelsea on November 17, 2021 in Manhattan, New York City, USA. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, Aug 4 (Reuters) – The European Union’s antitrust watchdog has asked app developers whether Alphabet (GOOGL.O) will threaten to withdraw money from its Play store if Google uses other payment methods than its own billing system. The removal of apps from the store has hurt their business, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Critics say Google and Apple (AAPL.O) overcharge on their mobile app stores, costing developers billions of dollars a year together, a sign of the companies’ monopoly power.

A questionnaire was sent to developers last month, the people said.

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Of the 16 questions in the document, some relate to 2017-2021 and others to 2019-2021. The European Commission declined to comment. Google did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The U.S. tech giant said it would remove apps from its app store starting in June this year if developers didn’t use its billing system.

Respondents were asked whether Google’s policy changes this year affected the distribution of their goods or services on the Google Play Store, which apps were affected, and whether it affected their ability to acquire users on Android devices, the people said. .

Regulators wondered whether the change forced developers to abandon other payment methods in favor of Google Billing, and whether migrating users to another payment method would affect the number of existing users and developers’ access to data.

Developers were asked if they believed they could offer a better service or product if they had an alternative payment system.

The EU competition enforcement agency also wants to know whether Google allows them to use alternative payment systems, charges for services or complains about the security of its payment methods.

App developers were asked whether U.S. payments giant Stripes, Dutch payments system Adyen (ADYEN.AS) and PayPal (PYPL.O) unit Braintree were considered alternative payment systems.

Last month, Google said non-gaming app developers could switch to rival payment systems for 12 percent lower fees instead of 15 percent, a move that applies to European users to comply with EU rules set to take effect next year. read more

Politico first reported the committee’s inquiry.

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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