Android smartphone and tablet users in India have for long had a problem making purchases on the Google Play Store with credit cards issued in the country by leading providers like Visa and MasterCard. That’s because according to a directive issued by the Reserve Bank of India (Indian equivalent of the US Federal Reserve), credit cards issued in the country should be “only for domestic usage unless international use is specifically sought by the customer”. This was done ostensibly to prevent credit card frauds that were rampant a few years back, but this apparent well-meaning regulation has had an unintended consequence for users of Android devices.
Google accepts only credit card payments for Play Store transactions, and with most credit cards in the country, by default, unable to make international payments, most people in India simply do not have an opportunity to buy apps and games from Google Play. Unless of course, they go through the hoops to activate international payments, which is something most choose not to, because of how complex and convoluted the entire process is. Either way, most people in the country prefer using debit cards anyways, to the extent that an overwhelming majority of Indians do not even own credit cards. Even though debit card usage in the country is comparatively more widespread, Google does not seem to accept debit card payments for Play Store purchases.
Now, however, there may just be a silver lining for those wanting to buy products and services from the Play Store in India. According to reports, Google is bringing carrier billing for purchases made on its app store, and postpaid subscribers of Indian wireless carrier, Idea, will be the first ones to have the opportunity to pay for their Play Store purchases via their monthly phone bills from the carrier. Of course, the postpaid market is miniscule in India compared to the prepaid market and Idea is only the third-largest wireless service provider in the country after the big two – Airtel and Vodafone. So obviously, Google has a long way to go before it can tap the actual potential of the Indian market, and the only way to make its apps and services available to everybody in the country would be to start offering carrier billing for prepaid subscribers as well.