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Fintech major PhonePe takes on Google, Apple with homegrown Indus Appstore

February 22, 2024 16:31 IST

The Indus Appstore is PhonePe's attempt at creating a more competitive and localised mobile app store economy for India, which is already the world's largest market for mobile apps.

Fintech major PhonePe on Wednesday announced the launch of its homegrown Indus Appstore specifically for the Indian market, in a bid to compete with global incumbents like Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

The Indus Appstore is PhonePe's attempt at creating a more competitive and localised mobile app store economy for India, which is already the world’s largest market for mobile apps.


“Indus Appstore challenges the status quo, ushering in an era of more healthy competition in the mobile app marketplace, which in turn should help create a more democratic and vibrant Indian digital ecosystem,” said Sameer Nigam, CEO and founder, PhonePe.

The store, which promises a level playing field for Indian app developers, will allow them to choose any third-party payment gateway for in-app billing, and they will not be charged any commission if they use an external payment gateway.

To accelerate early developer registrations, Indus is offering zero listing fees to developers for one year, until April 1, 2025, after which it will charge a fee.

“For paid app downloads, we haven’t come up with a payment structure.

"But it will not be in the double digits, for sure. It’ll be low single digits.

"We plan to make most of the money from advertising, since the primary objective of the store is to drive discovery and downloads of apps,” Nigam said.

Aside from advertising, Indus will, at a later date, also provide its own in-app billing and catalogue solutions, but these will remain strictly optional for app developers.

PhonePe had, back in 2022, acquired Indus OS, which was independently building an alternative app store to compete with the likes of Google and Apple.

The development comes amid an ongoing tussle between Indian app developers and technology major Google, who, they say, has been monopolising the distribution of apps and charging high commissions - between 15-30 per cent.

Speaking about the competition, Nigam said: “This is not about trust. This is fundamentally about the freedom to innovate in the sector…

"There are 750-800 million smartphone users in India with data.

"That’s a very large population for just one or two companies alone.

"We are offering an alternative with a different set of features and capabilities.”

Indus allows Indian consumers to download over 200,000 mobile apps and games to start, across 45 categories.

Users will be able to discover these apps in 12 Indian languages.

Indus is currently getting listings from third-party platforms that specialize in app aggregation, and following the official launch, is planning to make the registration process faster to onboard more apps.

"Right now, we are going live with the site-loaded version, which is an APK file.

"We are also talking to a lot of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the market and we are hoping that, in the next few weeks, we can announce some significant partnerships.

"We are very close with multiple (of them),” Nigam said.

PhonePe has announced partnerships with OEMs like Nokia and Lava to integrate the app store into their devices as of November 2023.

A feature that sets Indus apart from its competitors is that it allows users to register using just their mobile numbers, without requiring an email ID.

The app store also offers a short-video based discovery feature, to make new app discovery more engaging for consumers.

To combat fraudulent apps and viruses, the company said that it has put in place rigorous checks.

All apps on the Indus Appstore are scanned before developers list them and are also scanned after every update.

The app store is also onboarding a KYC for developers.

Aryaman Gupta
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