The Walmart-backed fintech PhonePe launched the Indus AppStore Developer Platform on Saturday, pledging no platform fee and no commission on in-app purchases to woo Android developers in Google’s largest market.
The Bengaluru-based business, which has over 450 million users on its payments app, said developers may register and post their apps on the ‘made-in-India’ app store today. PhonePe has worked with phonemakers to distribute the app store, which supports third-party payment providers, 12 Indian languages, and a phone-based login method.
PhonePe claimed developers will pay a “nominal” listing fee after the first year. The startup won’t charge for in-app purchases, unlike Google’s 15-30%. PhonePe, which leads India’s UPI-based payments market, claimed it has an India-based team to serve developers, answering local developers’ worries about Google’s delayed responses and U.S. timezone operating hours.
PhonePe announced its April app store launch on TechCrunch. Sources say PhonePe, which has raised $850 million in recent quarters, purchased IndusOS in 2021 and battled a legal struggle to complete the startup acquisition, has been working on the app store for years and sees it as a strategic move.
The debut of Indus Appstore Developer Platform comes as many Indian businesses and startups are disgruntled with Google, which runs Android on over 95% of handsets.
Indus Appstore co-founder and chief product officer Akash Dongre said in a statement that app developers in India have always had to distribute their apps through one app store, whatever the market size. (Despite expanding in India, Apple’s market share remains modest.)
“Indus Appstore hopes to provide app developers with a credible, localised alternative to the Google Playstore that improves app discovery and consumer engagement,” he said.
PhonePe isn’t the first local entrepreneur to dispute Google Play Store’s high fees. In recent years, many Indian enterprises have sought assistance from New Delhi, and some have hoped for a Paytm-led micro app store partnership.
The Walmart-backed startup, which was previously part of Flipkart, is optimistic that the Indian watchdog’s push to make Google accept third-party app stores and local features like real-time analytics, in-depth industry trend insights, and competitor evaluations will be more successful than previous attempts.
Google has spent over $10 billion in India in the previous decade as it seeks new growth markets outside the U.S. Google reaches over 700 million South Asian internet users but is increasingly criticised and regulated.
A year ago, India fined the corporation twice for antitrust violations and compelled it to modify its business arrangements with phonemakers and other partners. Google’s compliance came weeks after it warned that changing its business rules would raise device prices in the world’s second-largest smartphone market and encourage uncontrolled apps that threaten national and personal security.
PhonePe’s app store is the latest expansion into new categories by the finance business. The $12 billion firm launched an e-commerce app this year and Share.Market last month, allowing users to open trading accounts and invest in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.