European Union anti-trust investigators have been asking app developers whether Google has threatened to remove their apps from the Google Play Store if they use payment portals other than the search engine’s own billing system, according to Reuters who spoke to two individuals who were familiar with the investigation. App developers received questionnaires last month, according to the report. 

The search-engine company had told developers that their apps would be taken down from the Google storefront starting in June this year if they failed to follow its billing system, according to the Reuters report.

Google and Apple have been charging excessive fees to app developers, according to critics of the companies. Collectively, the fees can sometimes cost upwards of $1 billion, a sign of the two companies’ growing monopoly, which the EU has begun to take active measures against through two new laws. 

The 16-question document covered two separate time periods, from 2017-2021 and 2019-2021.

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One question asked of developers was whether they were being allowed by Google to use a different payment system, whether they were forced to pay a fee, or whether the internet behemoth complained to developers about their chosen portals. 

In the questionnaire, developers were asked if they were forced to adopt Google Billing and drop other payment portals.  If they had begun to use other billing systems, had developers switched to Stripe, Ayden or Braintree — all payment systems which function as independent entities. 

Additionally, they were asked if migrating to another billing system affected the number of pre-existing users and their access to data. 

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Amongst the questions asked by EU regulators in the questionnaire was if Google’s change in policy had affected developers’ ability to distribute their product on the Google Play Store and whether it impacted their ability to attract Android users. 

Last month, the EU passed two pieces of legislation which advocates say could help rein in Big Tech. However, critics are saying that if adequate resources are not allocated to enforcement, then the laws themselves would be “hamstrung”.