A sudden controversy emerged on Friday as suddenly Google banned Paytm from its app store known as Google Play Store. The multinational technology conglomerate had cited the Indian payments system of being an unregulatory gambling app and had pulled it out of the Play Store.
Ban of Paytm
The unpredicted move was taken up by Google on 18 th of September. They said that the Indian payment application had violated the gambling policies of the Play Store. The application is one of India’s go-to payments mode in the cashless era. It competes with Google’s own payment application, Google Pay. The marquee application also is the most valuable Indian startup that reportedly brings in over 50 million monthly active users. However, Google Pay dominates the Indian payments market in the country, while Google’s operating system, Android-based smartphones dominates 99 percent of the Indian mobile sector.
Google has accused that the payment system has violated the gambling policies by upholding unregulated gambling in its application. They also said that they prohibit online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that do sports betting in the country.
According to a report by TechCrunch, Paytm, which supports fantasy cricket within their apps has violated the Google Play policy repeatedly. The online fantasy sports service launched by PayTM named Paytm First Games, which is also available as a standalone application has also been pulled out of the Play Store.
According to Google, if an application takes you to a different website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments it would violate their policies. Google also had sent mails to several firm’s across India to ask them to stop any advertising in-app that would drive users to websites that offer installation files of sports betting apps.
This is believed to have been done because of the upcoming event Indian Premier League. Although sports betting is banned in India, fantasy sports, where users choose their players to create a team and participate in tournaments are very popular among the people. Last time during the Premier League there was a surge in applications that promotes this fantasy betting and Google claims that this would violate multiple gambling policies.
According to a report from TechCrunch, Google has also asked Disney+Hostar to show a caution message before playing any advertisement that promotes online betting.
Suzanne Frey, vice president, Product, Android Security, and Privacy, in a blog post wrote, “We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance. And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently.”
The counter-accusations by PayTM
To counter the claims that were made by Google, the Indian payment app, Paytm’s co-founder and chief executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma had thrown out allegations during a televised show that Google was not allowing Paytm to acquire new users.
Commenting on the incident, he has also said there Google has made several objections with the Paytm First Games in the past. But he says that removing the base application from the Play Store was unjustified.
He says that this ban of the main application is over “nothing but” paying cashback to customers. PayTM used to issue cashbacks in ways of cricket-themed scratch cards, he said, adding that if Paytm isn’t allowed to issue cashback to customers, the same rule should be applied to every other payment app such as Google and PhonePe who also indulges in similar activities to attract users.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) which represents some Indian Fantasy Sports application had claimed that it had complained to Google to take action on companies that distribute or promote fantasy sports through Play Store.
Dream 11, a popular fantasy sports application of India, which is one of the earliest of the country is the founder of FIFS. However, Dream 11 is not available on the Play Store. In a message to its members, leaked on Twitter, FIFS said the following:
Return of PayTM
Late Friday evening, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma tweeted,” Paytm App is back, live on Play Store. We launched a UPI cashback campaign this morning. Our app got suspended by Google for this. India, you decide if giving cashback is gambling.”
Calling the tech giant, Google, the “judge, jury and executioner”, Sharma said his company had launched an IPL game wherein the winner earns a sticker that offers cashback. This, he said, is being equated with gambling by Google.
He also remarked, “We are at the mercy of our gods at Google.”
He also says that this is the result of an unregulated monopoly in a sector, being enjoyed by Google.
Paytm, returning on Play Store is back in action to compete against Google’s own product in the sector.