Walmart-backed PhonePe is set to challenge Google’s dominance of the app store in India

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By Webdesk

Indian fintech giant PhonePe is preparing to launch a dedicated app store for Android users in India, the latest product push from the Walmart-backed company that dominates the mobile payments market in Asia’s second-largest economy.

The app store, designed to provide hyper-localized services based on customer context, aims to help developers achieve “high-quality” user acquisition through multilingual solutions, according to an internal company document reviewed by TechCrunch.

PhonePe entering the app store market just weeks away follows the Bengaluru-headquartered startup acquiring IndusOS, an app store maker that served customers through partnerships with smartphone vendors.

PhonePe, the most valuable Indian fintech startup aggressively competing against Google’s Google Pay app in India, plans to strengthen its engagement with smartphone vendors, including companies like Xiaomi, and also make the app store available as a standalone app for consumers in India, a source familiar with the matter reports.

The app store, which will be available for download as a standalone product from Google Play, will provide “premiere experience for millions of users with high quality ads and custom targeting”, support for 12 languages ​​and 24×7 live chat, the document said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, a spokesperson for PhonePe said that Google controls 97% of the Indian app store market and there is an opportunity for someone like PhonePe, who has amassed more than 350 million registered users in the country, to create a to build an alternative app store that is “more localized, not just from a language perspective, but also from a discovery and consumer interest perspective.”

The timing is also “favorable for us,” the company said, citing a recent order from the Indian antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India that paves the way for other developers to build and launch their app stores on Google Play. A tribunal has since offered Google some relief.

PhonePe confirmed that it is in multiple conversations with phone makers in India, saying “Everyone is very receptive, especially as CCI has clarified that Google cannot engage in anti-competitive practices.”

“All OEMs are excited about PhonePe building a localized App Store for the Indian market. We expect to be live on all Android OEMs within the first few months of launch. We’ve already signed deals with one of the largest OEMs and are looking to get the others on board quickly in the coming months.”

The app store is the latest product push from PhonePe, which also recently entered the e-commerce category. The startup split from parent company Flipkart last year.

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