Backend integration guidance for alternative billing

The Google Play Developer API now includes additional functionality to report transactions from an alternative billing system. This guide describes how to use the new functionality to report alternative billing transactions.

There are a few components that might be necessary to handle your in-app purchases from your backend. To build them, you need to set up your backend integration as indicated in Configure the Google Play Developer API. For all developer backend functionality that is not specific to alternative billing APIs, the instructions from the Google Play billing system documentation apply.

Report new external transactions to Google Play

Integrate with Externaltransactions APIs to report transactions happening outside Google Play's billing system in supported countries, including $0 transactions resulting from free trial purchases. Transactions on alternative billing systems should only be started and reported for eligible user countries as permitted under the alternative billing programs, otherwise the API call will be rejected. This applies to all transactions, including new purchases, renewals, top-ups, upgrades, downgrades, and others.

External transaction reporting

You should call the Externaltransactions API to report an external transaction after the payment has been authorized through the alternative billing system. This applies to all transactions, including initial charges, renewals, refunds, and others. All transactions are required to be reported within 24 hours of the transaction occurring.

Each external transaction is reported with an external transaction ID. For recurring purchases (such as auto-renewable subscriptions), you need to send the external transaction ID associated with the first transaction in the recurring purchase as a parameter for any subsequent transactions, including refunds. This records the series of transactions for that purchase. You send a new external transaction ID for purchases when the product changes (such as an upgrade or a downgrade), or if the recurring transaction is canceled or expired and the same product is bought again later. You must not include any personally identifiable information or proprietary or confidential information as part of this external transaction ID.

Report a new purchase

Every time a new purchase is successful in the alternative billing system, a call to the Externaltransactions API is required. For these new purchases, you need to provide a unique externalTransactionId associated with the purchase in your backend as a query parameter. This externalTransactionId cannot be reused within the same app's package ID.

The externalTransactionToken received by the app through the AlternativeBillingListener callback is also required as part of the request body for one-time purchases and first-time transactions in a recurring purchase (such as a subscription). In either case, this is called an initial transaction. After the initial transaction, the externalTransactionToken is no longer necessary, and you report subsequent transactions (such as subscription renewals) by providing a new unique externalTransactionId. See Report subsequent transactions for a purchase for more details on how to report subsequent transactions.

Example:

  1. A developer configures and enables alternative billing in their app.
  2. User 1 is in South Korea, a supported country, and is attempting to buy product1, for 9900.00KRW/month, with a one month free trial offer. This includes a 9000KRW pre-tax amount plus 900KRW in taxes.
  3. The app launches the purchase flow with the ProductDetails for product1 and the offer that the user selected.
  4. User 1 selects the developer's alternative billing system.
  5. The AlternativeBillingListener receives the value my_token as the externalTransactionToken.
  6. The developer then sends the pertinent information to their backend (externalTransactionToken value and products being purchased). Then, they launch the purchase flow for product1 in the alternative billing system. This transaction is assigned a unique transaction ID on the developer side that is used to report it to Google Play: 123-456-789. The transaction ID is required, even though the user is receiving a free trial.
  7. After the transaction for the purchase occurs in the alternative billing system, the developer reports the transaction to Google Play with the following request. It is reported as a zero-dollar transaction initially because the user gets a free month.
POST /androidpublisher/v3/applications/com.myapp.android/externalTransactions?externalTransactionId=123-456-789

Body
 {
"originalPreTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "0",
   "currency": "KRW"
 },
 "originalTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "0",
   "currency": "KRW"
 },
"transactionTime" : "2022-02-22T12:45:00Z",
 "recurringTransaction" : {
   "externalTransactionToken": "my_token",
   "externalSubscription" {
     "subscriptionType": "RECURRING"
   }
 },
 "userTaxAddress" : {
   "regionCode": "KR"
 }
}

If transacting with a user residing in India where tax varies depends on their administrative area (such as state or province), then be sure to include that area under userTaxAddress. Refer to the predefined list of strings in the API reference guide for applicable administrative areas.

POST /androidpublisher/v3/applications/com.myapp.android/externalTransactions?externalTransactionId=123-456-789

Body
 {
"originalPreTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "0",
   "currency": "INR"
 },
 "originalTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "0",
   "currency": "INR"
 },
"transactionTime" : "2023-11-01T12:45:00Z",
 "recurringTransaction" : {
   "externalTransactionToken": "my_token",
   "externalSubscription" {
     "subscriptionType": "RECURRING"
   }
 },
 "userTaxAddress" : {
   # Tax varies in India based on state, so include that information in
   # administrativeArea
   "regionCode": "IN"
   "administrativeArea": "KERALA"
 }
}

Report subsequent transactions for a purchase

In some cases, there is more than one user payment associated with the same external purchase (for example, subscription renewals or prepaid plan top-ups). You can report these subsequent transactions by using the same API in Externaltransactions. As described in Report a new purchase, the externalTransactionToken isn't necessary for subsequent transactions. Instead, a new unique externalTransactionId is sent as the query parameter for each renewal or top-up transaction, with the ID of the initial transaction included in the initialExternalTransactionId field.

Following the previous example:

  1. User 1's first renewal occurs on the alternative billing system. The initial transaction ID was 123-456-789.
  2. The developer reports the transaction recurrence in the URL query parameter as the external transaction ID for this new transaction, while referencing the external transaction ID of the initial transaction in the initialExternalTransactionId field.

Example request:

POST /androidpublisher/v3/applications/com.myapp.android/externalTransactions?externalTransactionId=abc-def-ghi

Body
 {
"originalPreTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "9000000000",
   "currency": "KRW"
 },
 "originalTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "900000000",
   "currency": "KRW"
 },
"transactionTime" : "2022-02-22T12:45:00Z",
 "recurringTransaction" : {
   "initialExternalTransactionId": "123-456-789",

   "externalSubscription" {
     "subscriptionType": "RECURRING"
   }
 },
 "userTaxAddress" : {
   "regionCode": "KR"
 }
}

Report an upgrade or downgrade

To report an upgrade or a downgrade when the user owns a subscription in the alternative billing system you use the same endpoint and function in the Externaltransactions API, sending the externalTransactionToken that was provided to the app for the upgrade or downgrade transaction. This works similarly to reporting a new purchase.

Migrating from manual reporting

To migrate active subscriptions that started while you were offering alternative billing without automated reporting, create a new zero-cost transaction using the migratedTransactionProgram field instead of specifying an initialExternalTransactionId or externalTransactionToken. Set the transactionTime to the time when the user initially signed up for each active subscription. Afterwards, report each subsequent transaction for these subscriptions as normal through the APIs, providing the initialExternalTransactionId used above to create the renewal transactions. Once the subscription is migrated, you will no longer need to manually report the subsequent transactions for the subscription, provided they are being reported through the automated methods described in this page.

While migrating subscriptions, be mindful of the quota limits in place to ensure the migration does not cause a quota outage. If many subscriptions need to be migrated, spread them out across multiple days or request for an increase in quota .

The migratedTransactionProgram field may only be used when migrating from manual reporting. It will be deprecated when manual reporting is no longer supported.

Example request:

# Note that the externalTransactionId specified here will used to report subsequent
# transactions.

POST /androidpublisher/v3/applications/com.myapp.android/externalTransactions?externalTransactionId=abc-def-ghi

Body
 {
 # Be sure to set the price to 0 for this transaction since it does not reflect
 # an actual subscription renewal.
 "originalPreTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "0",
   "currency": "KRW"
 },
 "originalTaxAmount" : {
   "priceMicros": "0",
   "currency": "KRW"
 },

 # The transaction time should be set to when the user signed up for this
 # subscription.
 "transactionTime" : "2022-02-22T12:45:00Z",
  "recurringTransaction" : {
    "migratedTransactionProgram": "USER_CHOICE_BILLING",

    "externalSubscription" {
      "subscriptionType": "RECURRING"
    }
  },
 "userTaxAddress" : {
   "regionCode": "KR"
 }
}

Report purchase refunds to Google Play

Integrate with the Externaltransactions API to report transactions refunded to users outside Google Play's billing system. For Play to correctly identify which transaction has been refunded, you should include the corresponding externalTransactionId for the previously reported transaction as part of the URL parameters.

When reporting refunds of subscription purchases, reference the externalTransactionId of the specific recurrence of the subscription that is being refunded.

Example: Suppose a subscription has the following transactions:

  • An initial transaction with external transaction ID ABC.1234-5678-9012-34567
  • The first recurring transaction with external transaction ID ABC.1234-5678-9012-34567..0
  • The second recurring transaction with external transaction ID ABC.1234-5678-9012-34567..1

To report a refund of all transactions for the subscription, you need to make three separate refund requests: one for the initial transaction and two for the subsequent transactions.

This method accepts both full refunds (where the amount is the same amount that the user paid in the original external transaction) and partial refunds (where the amount is smaller than what the user paid in the original external transaction). For partial refunds, you need to specify the pre-tax amount that was refunded.

API quotas

The Externaltransactions API is subject to daily API quotas for all calls, just like any other endpoint in the Google Play Developer API.

Additionally, the Externaltransactions API has a 1,200 Queries Per Minute (QPM) limit on calls to Externaltransactions.createexternaltransaction or Externaltransactions.refundexternaltransaction. Calls to Externaltransactions.getexternaltransaction don't count toward this 1,200 QPM limit.