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With Apple fight ongoing, Dutch watchdog ACM to investigate Google Play store practices

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) announced on Wednesday a preliminary investigation into Alphabet Inc's Google for possible anti-competitive practices in its Play store.

Tinder owner Match group had asked the regulator to assess whether Google is abusing a dominant position in the dating app market.

"Dating-app providers allegedly are no longer able to use a payment system other than Google's payment system," ACM spokesperson Murco Mijnlieff said in an email.

In a response, a Google spokesperson said the company charges customers 15% commissions for subscriptions via Google Play, which it said was "the lowest rate among major app platforms."

It said app distributors can also avoid Google Play entirely by distributing their apps via other stores or websites.

The Dutch ACM remains locked in a two-year fight with Google competitor Apple over alternative means of payment for dating apps on the App Store.

Apple has received 50 million euros in fines -- the maximum possible under a current court decision -- for failure to comply with an ACM order to make it possible for dating app developers to offer customers non-Apple payment methods.

On Monday the ACM said the most recent proposals by Apple to remedy the situation, on March 30, were still not sufficient and it is preparing a new order with new payment penalties.

"Once we have published this new order subject to periodic penalty payments, we can comment on the contents thereof as well as on the points on which Apple is still in non-compliance. That may take several weeks," the ACM said.

Apple has said it believes it has already sufficiently complied with the ACM's orders and declined further comment.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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