New Delhi: Google has agreed to reinstate all the delisted apps of Indian companies on its Play Store after government intervention facilitated dialogue to resolve a dispute over service fee payments.

Telecom and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who brought Google and the startups to the negotiating table, stated that the US tech giant has been supporting India’s technology development journey.

“Google and the startup community have met with us, and we have had very constructive discussions… Google has agreed to list all the apps,” he said. On Friday, Google removed apps from a dozen developers, including popular ones by Matrimony.Com and the job search app Naukri, for non-compliance with its in-app payment guidelines.

As the government strongly objected to the removal, calling it unacceptable, Google began restoring some apps on Saturday, provided they agreed to comply with its guideline to pay a fee of 11-25 percent on in-app payments or conduct financial transactions outside of the app. (Also Read: Lava Blaze Curve 5G With Curved Display Launched In India At Rs 17,999; Check Price, Specs)

Vaishnaw and Minister of State for Information and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar held multiple rounds of discussions with Google and the app owners on Monday in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis, which some labeled as a dark day for the internet.

On Tuesday, Vaishnaw announced that Google has agreed to restore the status from Friday morning, i.e., pre-delisting. “We believe Google and the startup community will be able to come to a long-term solution in the coming months,” he said, indicating that the two sides will now sit down and resolve the issue of the levy of service charges.

India is the world’s largest consumer internet market for tech giants like Meta and Google. With the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government effectively using its geopolitical clout, they cannot afford to ignore the Indian market or act aggressively towards it.

A day after Google delisted the apps, Vaishnaw revealed the government’s stance in an interview with PTI when he said the removal was unacceptable and that “startups will get the protection they need.”

The government subsequently called for a meeting on Monday to resolve the issue. At the heart of the problem is Google’s in-app fee. While Google claims the fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store ecosystem, startups argue that the tech giant is forcing them to use its payment system and pay a fee, failing which they are being offloaded by the Play Store. (Also Read: Apple Launches Refreshed MacBook Air Models With M3 Chipset In India; Check Price, Features)

The Competition Commission of India had previously ordered Google not to mandatorily enforce an earlier system of charging 15-30 percent. Google then imposed a fee of 11-26 percent on in-app payments. It removed the apps that weren’t paying the fee after the Supreme Court did not provide interim relief to the companies behind these apps in their battle against the search giant’s platform fees.

While removing the apps, Google stated on Friday that some Indian companies had chosen not to pay for the “immense value they receive on Google Play.”Among the worst affected by the removals is Matrimony.Com, which has seen more than 140 of its apps being dropped from the Play Store. Other removed apps included Balaji Telefilms’ Altt (formerly ALTBalaji), audio platform Kuku FM, dating service Quack Quack, and Truly Madly.

Info Edge saw its job search app Naukri and real estate search app 99acres removed, but they were back the next day when it moved to Google’s consumption model, where any payment made is conducted outside of the app.

Google had briefly removed the popular payments app Paytm from its Play Store in 2020, citing policy violations. This led to widespread industry outcry, with startups joining hands to mount legal challenges against the tech giant. They even joined forces to launch their own app store.