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Play Store carrier billing coming to India’s largest carrier - report
Google and Airtel are reportedly in talks to enable carrier billing for Play Store users in India.
Carrier billing allows users without credit or debit cards to buy online items such as apps, in-app purchases, or ebooks. The purchases are paid through their monthly phone bills, even when they are made over WiFi. The service is currently available in 26 countries.
According to the Times of India, which cites two people familiar with the matter, Google and Airtel are currently negotiating their respective cuts of each transaction. Google is offering Airtel just 10 percent, which is relatively little compared to the shares of carriers in other countries – for instance, in South Korea, carriers reportedly take a 30 percent cut out of each transaction. Backroom discussions aside, it looks likely that Google and Airtel will begin offering the service in the near future.
Airtel is India’s largest carrier, with 40 million data subscribers, out of whom 12.5 million are on 3G. Enabling carrier billing would allow Google and the developers selling theirs app on the Play Store to reach a much wider audience, given that only 2 percent of the Indian population uses credit or debit cards. India’s market is huge and still growing: there are 900 million mobile users in the country, but only 10 percent of them use smartphones.
Last week, Google announced the launch of the first Android One devices in India, a move spearheaded by Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai. Google is trying really hard to get Android phones in the hands of more Indians, and is throwing in some nice perks to make the deal even better. Airtel users of Android One devices will get system updates that don’t count against their data allowance, as well as 200MB of free data that can be used for downloading apps from the Play Store.