Google deprecates Web Store Payments API, effectively nuking Chrome paid extensions

Move comes after a wave of fraudulent transactions over the winter.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Google has announced on Monday plans to permanently shut down the Chrome Web Store "Payments API."

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This is the system that Google was using to handle payments on the Web Store, such as one-time fees, monthly subscriptions, and free trials for commercial Chrome extensions.

The move to shut down the Payments API — and effectively support for Chrome paid extensions — comes after reports of widespread fraud last winter.

Google originally reacted by suspending the ability to publish and update Chrome paid extensions in January, and later temporarily disabled the entire Payments API in March.

Initially, Google promised to crack down on the fraudulent actors, but on Monday, in a surprise announcement, the company did the opposite by shutting down the Web Store payments system instead.

Google is now asking extension developers to migrate their extensions to use a third-party, non-Web Store payments processor.

Since the Payments API has been down since March, Google said it's not planning on bringing it back on. Going forward, Google provided the following timeline:

  • Sept. 21, 2020: You can no longer create new paid extensions or in-app items. This change, in effect since March 2020, is now permanent.
  • Dec. 1, 2020: Free trials are disabled. The "Try Now" button in CWS will no longer be visible, and in-app free trial requests will result in an error.
  • Feb. 1, 2021: Your existing items and in-app purchases can no longer charge money with Chrome Web Store payments. You can still query license information for previously paid purchases and subscriptions. (The licensing API will accurately reflect the status of active subscriptions, but these subscriptions won't auto-renew.)
  • At some future time: The licensing API will no longer allow you to determine license status for your users.
Image: Google

Google's move has sparked some outrage among the Chrome extensions developer community. Because Google doesn't provide details on paying customers to extension owners, many developers are now facing a situation where they might not be able to migrate their entire userbases to their new payments processor of choice.

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