PhonePe’s Indus AppStore Developer Platform was unveiled on Saturday, marking a significant challenge to Google’s dominance in India. The Walmart-backed fintech firm is offering Android developers a compelling proposition with zero platform fees and no commissions on in-app purchases.
Based in Bengaluru, PhonePe boasts an impressive user base of over 450 million registered users for its payment app. The company announced that developers can begin registering and uploading their apps to this ‘made-in-India’ app store starting immediately. The app store, developed in collaboration with phone manufacturers for distribution, comes equipped with numerous locally relevant features, including support for third-party payment providers, support for 12 Indian languages, and a login system centered around phone numbers.
PhonePe has committed to charging developers no listing fees for the first year and subsequently implementing a “nominal” cost structure. In contrast to Google’s substantial 15-30% commission rates on in-app purchases, PhonePe has pledged not to levy any commissions on such transactions. To address the concerns of local developers dissatisfied with Google’s delayed responses and U.S. timezone operating hours, PhonePe has established an India-based support team.
The news of PhonePe’s app store launch was previously reported by TechCrunch in April. PhonePe, which raised $850 million in recent quarters and acquired IndusOS in 2021 after a legal battle, has been diligently working on this app store for several years, viewing it as a pivotal strategic move internally, according to insiders.
PhonePe’s Indus Appstore Developer Platform enters the market at a time when numerous Indian businesses and startups have grown frustrated with Google, whose Android OS powers over 95% of smartphones in the country. Despite the vast market size, Indian app developers have traditionally been constrained to a single app store for app distribution.
Akash Dongre, co-founder and chief product officer of Indus Appstore, stated that Indus Appstore aims to provide app developers with a credible alternative to the Google Play Store. Their vision includes localization and improved app discovery and consumer engagement.
PhonePe is not the first Indian entity to challenge the perceived high fees of the Google Play Store. Many Indian businesses have sought government intervention, and some have placed their hopes on a mini app store alliance led by Paytm.
PhonePe, originally part of Flipkart, is optimistic about Indian regulators pressuring Google to accept third-party app stores and incorporate features tailored to local needs, such as real-time analytics, in-depth industry trend insights, and competitor evaluations. India is a pivotal international market for Google, where it has invested over $10 billion in the past decade as it seeks growth opportunities outside the United States. However, Google has faced criticism and regulatory actions in India, including two antitrust fines, as it navigates the challenging Indian market.
PhonePe’s app store launch is part of its broader expansion strategy as a fintech startup. The company, valued at $12 billion, introduced an e-commerce app earlier this year and recently unveiled Share.Market, an app that enables users to open trading accounts and invest in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.