KakaoTalk Update on Google Play Store Paused for a Week Due to Payment Link Deadlock

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) — The latest software update for KakaoTalk, South Korea’s most popular mobile messaging app, went on hold for a week on the Google Play Store on Thursday following rejection of tech giant Kakao Corp. to comply with the new in-app payment policy.

Google declined Kakao’s submission request for the latest version 9.8.6 of KakaoTalk for Android on Google Play on June 30, citing Kakao’s non-compliance with the policy, according to Kakao. The update remained unavailable Thursday morning, a Kakao official said.

Google’s move is in line with its new payments policy announced in April, which requires app developers selling digital goods and services on its app marketplace to use Google’s own billing system and remove links from external payment.

Previously, many app developers on Google Play directed users to external links for payment to circumvent Google’s billing policy, which charges a hefty 15-30% commission on in-app purchases.

Google has warned that non-compliant apps will be removed from June. This has prompted many content companies to remove external payment links and raise prices for content, such as webtoons and e-books, to offset increased costs from commissions.

Kakao, however, has apparently decided to challenge Google’s policy, which has been widely seen by the local tech community as a violation of the country’s revised Telecommunications Business Law.

The revision, which prohibits app store operators from forcing developers to use their own integrated payment systems, was passed by the National Assembly in September last year, making South Korea the first countries in the world to introduce such restrictions on the in-app. Apple’s and Google’s app billing policies.

Kakao has maintained an external payment link in KakaoTalk for its Emoticon Plus paid subscription service. It has also made the latest version of KakaoTalk available in an APK file (Android package) so that users can download it from the internet and install it without using Google Play.

Google’s latest policy has prompted the Korea Publishers Association to file a complaint with the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), South Korea’s telecommunications regulator, accusing the US tech giant of breaking the law and calling for an investigation. on the billing policy.

Amid the standoff, KCC Chairman Han Sang-hyuk plans to hold a three-way meeting with Kakao and Google executives later today to hear the companies’ positions on the issue.

Police also launched an investigation after Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty, a local civic group, filed a formal complaint against Google’s new policy last month.

Google Korea did not respond to Yonhap News Agency’s request for comment on KakaoTalk’s update suspension and complaints about its new payment policy.

Harry D. Gonzalez