Matrimony.com captured media attention recently for fighting a lone battle against tech giant Google, both at the Competition Commission of India and the Madras High Court, highlighting the alleged misuse of its monopoly by the global major. An interview with the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Murugavel Janakiraman about the Google battle, evolution of the Indian marriage market post Covid, and his firm’s roadmap for the future. Edited Excerpts:
Can you explain the details of your issues with global tech major Google?
It all started with Apple in the United States. Because Apple is a closed eco-system, it initially said that its game developers need to use only the Apple Billing Payment system, giving 30 per cent revenue to Apple. Google introduced a similar policy in India. It has a monopoly in India, with around 95 per cent marketshare. We went to CCI, saying that you cannot force a company to use the Google Billing Payment System.
According to Google, if you are using an online service, you have to use only their payment system, but you have to give 15-30 per cent, compared to what you pay through other payment gateways, where you pay only 1.5 per cent. CCI said that you cannot force companies to use Google Billing Payment System and should allow users to go for other payment gateways. Google said, it will allow users to do that, but if you use other payment gateways, by the end of the month you have to report that these are the different payment gateways used and pay 11 per cent or 26 per cent. Literally, it doesn’t matter if you are using Google Billing Payment System or any other payment system, if you are using Google you will be charged 15-30 per cent and if you are using other payment gateways you will be charged 11-26 per cent. Then we went to CCI once again.
Basically, Google is abusing its monopoly, forcing companies to use its payment system. But even if you don’t use it, you are being asked to pay 15-30 per cent. It is literally a Google tax. It is being charged to every digital services company in sectors like the media, Edtech, fintech, Healthtech etc. Anybody selling digital goods and services is affected. We will fight it out and the CCI investigation is on.
What about the battle at Madras High Court?
We took Google to the Madras High Court on different grounds. The Payment and Settlement Systems Act (Section 10A) says that companies above certain revenue have to use UPI. There is no commission on UPI. Directly or indirectly, you cannot charge money on UPI transactions. Google is saying: ‘I am not a payment provider, I am a platform provider’. They violate government rules.
Others aren’t protesting due to fear. More people are joining us. The Madras High Court has given us an interim injunction (restraining Google from delisting Bharat Matrimony and its affiliate from Google’s Android Play Store even if it disagree with the tech giant’s new payment policy). Why do you fear such companies? It’s our country and they’re here to do business. We are spending almost Rs 4 crore every month on Google. It isn’t that Google is not getting money from us.
What is your growth outlook for the marriage market in India, especially when you are into matchmaking and marriage services segments?
Indian wedding market size will be at least $100 billion. About 60 million people are looking for life partners in India and 10-12 million weddings take place every year. Today, the industry may be able to service around 10 million people and the growth will depend on what percentage of the remaining 50 million people can be brought online. Unlike other categories, this category will not have permanent users. Our overall paid transactions are about 990,000 per year now.
In matchmaking, we are at Rs 500 crore and in the next three to four years, we will touch Rs 1,000 crore. In the current financial year, we expect to move to double-digit growth, in billing as well as revenue, as matchmaking is bouncing back. Going forward, we will continue to grow in double digits.
Why is it that you are still unable to make a huge mark in the north Indian market?
We will eventually win that market. In the north, we are a strong player, among the top three. In the south, we have a 95 per cent market share, while in the East it is 60-70 per cent and in the West also we are the No. 1.
We have 300 platforms of which Bharat Matrimony is the largest. We’ve covered all segments such as religion, language, community and profession. We have also entered Bangladesh and West Asia and are looking at Sri Lanka. However, I’m not keen on countries with dating culture.
What is your strategy to foray further into different categories of the society?
We have separate platforms for doctors, defence, techies etc. Over one and a half years ago, we launched an application called Jodii for common people–less literate and non-English speaking. We have got over 1 million registrations under this. At first, female registrations were not happening, so we made it completely free for females. We are working on different strategies to get that segment of the population to adapt to online and see that it is happening. The price point is very low in Jodii, around Rs 1,000 compared to Rs 5,000 for online matrimony.
Source: Business Standard