PhonePe ventures into the app market with Indus Appstore amid Google Play policy shift

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PhonePe, owned by Walmart, is gearing up to unveil its mobile app store, Indus Appstore, to consumers on February 21, posing a direct challenge to Google’s Play Store.

The launch follows the digital payments firm’s decision four months ago to open its app marketplace to Android developers. Since then, Indus Appstore has made strides in onboarding a variety of apps, including notable names like Flipkart, ixigo, Domino’s Pizza, Snapdeal, JioMart, and Bajaj Finserv. As reported in Moneycontrol it has inked partnerships with prominent real-money game developers like Dream11, Nazara Technologies, Gameskraft, and Mobile Premier League (MPL). The move comes as a relief for RMG companies grappling with high commissions and tax burdens, particularly amidst Google Play Store’s stringent policies.

Indus Appstore stands out by enabling Android developers to list their apps in 12 Indian languages besides English, along with the ability to upload media and videos in these languages. Notably, the app marketplace is poised to levy zero per cent fees on in-app purchases, a departure from the 15-30 per cent fees charged by Google Play Store and Apple App Store. PhonePe had earlier announced that app listings on its platform would be free for the first year, with a nominal annual fee after that.

Indus, conceptualised as a Made in India initiative and announced in September, aims to provide developers with an alternative to Google Play’s hefty commission charges, which can go up to 30% for app downloads. Offering features like zero commission for in-app payments, waived listing fees for the first year, real-time analytics, and mobile number-based login, Indus attracted RMG companies seeking to alleviate financial strains associated with app distribution.

The RMG industry, facing challenges aggravated by increased GST burdens, found relief in Indus’ user-friendly policies, allowing them to retain a larger share of their revenue. With Google Play Store traditionally limiting the availability of real money gaming apps to specific categories like rummy and daily fantasy sports, the advent of Indus offered a much-needed alternative for RMG developers looking to expand their reach.

In a significant shift in its policies, Google announced on January 12 its intention to broaden the scope of real-money gaming apps available on the Play Store, starting with India, Mexico, and Brazil from June 2024. This move signals a departure from its previous restrictions and indicates a more inclusive approach towards RMG applications. Additionally, Google plans to introduce service fees for these apps, marking a departure from its earlier revenue-sharing model.

This shift underscores the competitive landscape in the app distribution market, with Indus Appstore emerging as a viable competitor offering developer-friendly policies and a diverse ecosystem. As the digital gaming industry continues to evolve, the developments surrounding Indus Appstore and Google Play’s policy shift highlight the dynamic nature of app distribution and the evolving needs of developers in navigating regulatory challenges and maximising revenue potential.