Paytm Pulled From Play Store, Founder Thinks Google Is Trying To Promote Google Pay

Aadhya Khatri - Sep 21, 2020


Paytm Pulled From Play Store, Founder Thinks Google Is Trying To Promote Google Pay

On Friday, Google pulled Paytm, India’s popular financial services app from its app store citing violations of its gambling policies

On Friday, Google pulled Paytm, India’s popular financial services app from its app store citing violations of its gambling policies. However, Paytm is now back to the Play Store, but the issue doesn't stop there.

Paytm is currently the most valuable startup in India with more than 50 million active users a month. The app is a direct competitor of Google Pay.

Paytm India
Paytm is currently the most valuable startup in India with more than 50 million active users a month

Google forbids online casinos and illegal gambling apps for sports betting in the country. According to the search engine giant, Paytm repeatedly violates this policy by promoting a fantasy sports service called First Games. Paytm’s sports service is also available as an app, which had already been pulled from Play Store.

The policy is applied to most other markets Google operates in and it details that if an app leads users to an external website that allows them to join paid tournaments to win real money, the app is deemed to have committed a violation.

Google also sent emails to several Indian firms asking developers to stop advertising in-app campaigns that send users to websites with suggestions to download sports betting apps.

Google Pay app is currently the market leader in online payment in India and Google’s Android OS also gains a whopping market share of 99%.

Google Pay in India
Google Pay app is currently the market leader in online payment in India

The announcement also served as a reminder for developers of its gambling policies before the Indian Premier League kicked off. Previous IPL seasons, which last for two months and receive the attention of hundreds of millions of people in India, usually see a surge in the number of sports betting apps in the country.

While India forbids sports betting, fantasy sports, which allow users to choose their players and win money of the players or teams play well, isn’t illegal in most states.

A person who has insight into the matter said Google also asks Hotstar to run a warning before any advertisements of any fantasy app are played.

Indian Premier League 2020
Previous IPL seasons usually see a surge in the number of sports betting apps in the country

Suzanne Frey, vice president of Product, Android Security, and Privacy, wrote in a blog post that the policies were in place to protect users from harm and when the company detected violations, the apps’ developers will be notified and the apps would be removed until the developers brought their products into compliance.

When the developers repeated the violation, more severe punishment would be applied, including termination of Develop accounts. She added that the policies were applicable to all developers.

In an interview with CNBC, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm’s chief executive, and co-founder accused Google of removing Paytm to acquire new users for its payment app.

He said Google has reached out to Paytm about First Games and what happened to the main app was nothing but paying money back to customers in the form of cricket-themed scratch cards since the company wasn’t allowed to pay back in cash. According to him, the same practice should be applied to PhonePe and Google Pay.

Vijay Shekhar Paytm
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm’s chief executive, and co-founder accused Google of removing Paytm to acquire new users for its payment app

In an interview, Madhur Deora, Paytm’s president, said Google didn’t mention any problems with the First Games app on Friday. He said the cricket-themed stickers were rolled out on the same day and a few hours later, Google objects the practice and removed the app from their app store.

The revised version of the Paytm app has been submitted to Google and the controversial feature behind this all has been pulled from the app, according to Deora.

Madhur Deora Paytm’s president
In an interview, Madhur Deora, Paytm’s president, said Google didn’t mention any problems with the First Games app on Friday

The FIFS (short for Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports) said it had complained with the search engine giant to crack down on companies that promote and distribute fantasy sports on Play Store.

The federation is co-founded by Dream Sports, the company behind Dream11 - India’s most popular fantasy sports app, which isn’t available on Google’s app store.

Dream11 fantasy sports app
Dream11 is India’s most popular fantasy sports app but it isn’t available on Google’s app store

On Friday, FIFS announced that the federation was there to protect the benefits of members and non-members alike. And FIFS would raise concerns on behalf of the federations’ members.

It also mentioned the instances when SportsTiger and FanCode, Dream 11’s sister brands were removed from the Play Store for policy violation of promoting fantasy sports apps. However, it said, Google still allowed Paytm to promote its First Games.

The federation said all it wanted from Google was a clarity to ensure a level playing field by letting all fantasy apps to be promoted on the Play Store.

>>> Epic Games Declared War Against Apple After Fortnite Was Removed From App Store

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