Not only is Google changing the image of Android Market with its rebranding as Google Play, it is also insisting that devs use Google Payments. Currently this appears to exclude any developer outside the USA.
As reported two days ago, Google Play is the new unified store for Android apps, music, movies and books and as part of its aim of giving consumers an easier, smoother shopping experience Google is insisting on the use of its proprietary payment system, Google Payments, based on Google Wallet, and will remove apps that don't comply.
According to Google this isn't a new policy. The same requirement was included in the previous terms of service and there had already been removals of apps for violations of the policy.
It seems that the only real changes are that the policy has attracted some attention and that the changeover has given Google an impetus to enforce it.
When the Android Market opened Google didn't have a proprietary solution for in-app payments and devs used PayPal, Zong and other third party payment systems that did have APIs. Last November Google merged its two payment systems, Google Checkout and Google Wallet, giving consumers a single service. Making developers use this service seems like good news for end users, who can simply nominate the credit or debit card of their choice, or purchase a pre-paid card, and pay for all apps and downloads from Google Play with it.
Obviously if a simplified payment system makes consumers buy more then that's good for developers. Google charges 5% for handling payments and hands over 95%. For comparison PayPal retains 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction which means it charges a lot more for a small purchase - 33% for a purchase costing $0.99 which is typical for many in-app payments.
When Google Wallet was first launched we complained about the lack of an API. The In-App payment API arrived a few week's later and this video promotes the benefits of implementing it.
There is a huge catch, however. Currently its use is restricted to those with a US bank account, an address in the US and a US taxpayer ID or as Google puts it:
Basically you must have a real business presence inside the US in order to use this API.
So until Google makes good on:
We expect to expand the list of seller countries later this year
there is a huge pool of developers prevented from using the system.
When will companies like Google, Microsoft and so on wake up to the fact that the web is a global business and app stores are the most global enterprise of all. You simply cannot start off by launching an API that alienates the world.