codegreen pulled from Google PlayStore

How much ist 30 percent of zero?

Two weeks ago I received an email from Google Play Support that my sustainability barcode scanner App codegreen was pulled from the PlayStore. It violates Google’s Payments policy, because I offer users the option to donate money and support the project. Codegreen is a free app without Ads or In-app purchases and donating is totally optional.

Here’s the explanation:

  • In-store purchases:Developers charging for apps and downloads from Google Play must use Google Play’s payment system.
  • In-app purchases:
    • Developers offering products within a game downloaded on Google Play or providing access to game content must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment.
    • Developers offering products within another category of app downloaded on Google Play must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment, except for the following cases: 
      • Payment is solely for physical products
      • Payment is for digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g. songs that can be played on other music players).
    • In-app virtual currencies must only be used within the app or game title for which they were purchased.
    • Developers must not mislead users about the apps they are selling nor about any in-app services, goods, content, or functionality offered for purchase. If your product description on Google Play refers to in-app features that may require a specific or additional charge, your description must clearly notify users that payment is required to access those features.

Additionally, this screenshot was added:

I can’t see where I violate the terms above as I’m not charging for the app itself nor do I offer any In-app purchases. And just for perspective, when the App was pulled from the store the amount of donations received totalled at €0.00. Which is okay for me, as I wasn’t looking to make any money from it. More important for me was that I also provided donation links to Atmosfair and to the Open Food Facts project. I do get that Google wants their share of an App’s revenue and that this is their business. I’m okay with that. But the rejection didn’t mention if I need to remove the donation links to Atmofair and OFF as well, so I wrote back to the Support.

This is their response:

Thanks for contacting the Google Play team. 

Status: codegreen (com.codegreen) not available on Google Play

I’ve reviewed your appeal request and found that your app still violates Google Play Policy. I’ve included details below about the specific issue with your app and what you can do to get your app back on Google Play.

Step 1: Fix the policy violation with your app

During review, we found that your app violates the Payments policy. You can read through thePayments policy page for more details.

For example, your app currently contains a donation feature, currently not supported by Google Play Billing. You can refer to the attached screenshot for additional information.

Donations may only be collected within an app under certain conditions:

  1. Donations are only permitted for validated non-profit charitable organizations (for example, a validated 501(c)(3) charitable organization or the local equivalent).
  2. Donations must be facilitated via a web browser, and any collection must be made through a secure payment system.

(the rest of the email explains how to fix the app and submit it for review)

TL;DR: I can’t offer donation support for codegreen as I’m not a validated non-profit charitable organization.

Sadly, no mention at all if I could keep the donation links for Atmosfair and OFF. I will reply to the support and ask again if that is possible.

And I will remove any donation support for me from the App.

I hope to find some time to update the App and submit it again. Until then, codegreen is no longer available.