Google expands its User Choice Billing (UCB) pilot to include Spotify among its early entrants. Now officially allows music platform customers to set up payment for services outside of the Google Play Store.
Back in March, Google has partnered with Spotify to launch the program, giving users the opportunity to use various payment options. The UCB service was first available to users in Japan, Australia and several European countries. Now it’s making its way to the US, Brazil and South Africa after Google got it “positive response and [feedback]from the first round (opens in a new tab). In the coming weeks, Spotify will introduce a third party payment option for Android users only, so they can choose how they want to pay for their Premium subscription.
An open and fair platform
Once introduced, people who want to subscribe to Spotify Premium will see it another option to use your own platform service instead (opens in a new tab). The main difference so far is that you cannot track your subscription on Spotify’s billing service while you can on Google. Other than that, everything is as usual: you enter your credit card information to pay and you’re done.
Google currently allows other non-gaming apps on the Play Store enroll in the UCB pilot program (opens in a new tab). Developers need to keep up some UX guidelines (opens in a new tab) created by Google, which describe in detail how to implement this feature. Looking at the guidelines, developers must include a billing information and selection page every time a user tries to purchase a service. The displayed price also needs to be top and center.
The full list of UCB participants is unknown, but we know that dating app Bumble will soon join the program “in select countries” [within] coming months.”
Spotify claims to be the champion of UCB because it sees the show as “Google [allowing] more choice and competition” in the Play Store. The company wants more fairness on the platform so that apps can grow and “give users [the free service] the ability to sign up and make purchases directly [on the] app”.
We asked Google what it hopes to achieve with UCB specifically for users, as well as why gaming apps are currently excluded from the program. This story will be updated if we get a response.
The future of app stores
As for Apple and its popular App Store, we strongly doubt that users will see anything remotely resembling UCB. Apple has made it clear that it doesn’t like third-party payment options on the App Store. Last forced Telegram to crack down on iOS users making paid posts because the tech giant had no profit. And then there is Apple’s 2021 Court Battle from Epic Games after Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store due to similar actions.
However, changes may be inevitable. The Open Markets Act is a proposed antitrust bill designed to stop both Google and Apple “from engaging in harmful conduct toward their competitors.” Google appears to be more than willing to play prettier, but it remains to be seen if and when Apple decides to do the same.