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Row erupts when Google pulls Paytm out of the app store and then retrieves it


The big drama unfolded Friday afternoon when search engine giant Google removed the Paytm mobile payment app from its Play Store, citing breach of its gaming restrictions, before bringing it back in the evening. Paytm’s fantasy gaming app was also removed prior to the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Saturday, and did not return until the release of this report.
The removal of the Paytm app, which eliminates the ability to get new users, has sparked widespread disapproval among India’s startup ecosystem, as the US-based tech giant’s unit Google Pay competes with it in India. .
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who said Google was acting as “judge, jury and executioner,” told TOI that the company was notified in the morning that the app was being removed due to a cricket promotion in payments. he was running. In the promotion, a user who collects five stickers is entitled to a refund. Many of these schemes also run on other payment platforms. It had also received warnings for promoting Paytm First Games, a sports fantasy platform, in its main application three times.
When the Paytm app was removed, Google, without naming Paytm, said in a blog post that it does not allow online casinos or support unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. “This includes if an application takes consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies,” said the United States-based Internet search giant. United. Other online fantasy platforms such as Dream11, MPL, and My11Circle have also not been available on the Google Play Store in recent years due to their policy.
Sources said Google’s action was led by Paytm promoting its fantasy gaming unit through its main app. “They (Paytm) were promoting Paytm First Games links within the main Paytm application. Clicking on it will take you to Paytm’s fantasy gaming platform, which includes betting. That is not allowed according to Play Store policy. That’s why the app had to be removed, “said a person close to the development. While gambling is not allowed in India, several state high courts have called fantasy sports a game of” skill “and not of” random “, so legal as of now.
But even though Google doesn’t allow fancy game apps on its app store, these platforms can advertise on its search engine, which various experts have pointed to as a contradictory policy. “An undetermined implication would be compliance with their policies by sports fantasy applications such as Dream 11 and MPL that are not directly available on the Google Play Store platform, but that appear in advertisements and induce a similar effect on their user, which eventually leads to a violation of its gaming policies. Therefore, Google may be required to adjust its policies to address the implications of applications placed directly on its platform and the content available on it, “said Sonam Chandwani, partner. manager of KS Legal & Associates.
The development of Paytm First Games came at a critical time, as a marketing and advertising budget of Rs 300 million has been outlined for the next 12 months, starting with IPL. Removing the Google Play Store blocks your main channel from acquiring new customers.
Many in the startup ecosystem have questioned whether Google’s moves are indicative of a misuse of its influence on India’s internet economy. Unlike markets like the US, where Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS have the same market share, in India the former rules with a 90-95% share in smartphones.
Earlier this year, another payments app, Mobikwik, was removed from the Google Play Store to advertise the Aarogya Setu contact tracing app, which it said was mandated by RBI. The app came back in a day.
The entrepreneurs said that while Google has the right to have its policies, the implementation and the way it handles non-compliance could be better. “The action of taking off the application is quite abrupt. There is usually no warning. If it’s Paytm, it will be active in a few hours; if it is a lesser known application, it will take a few days. Google also needs to develop local teams with a clear understanding of the Indian context. Right now, it looks like this is being done through a global team, ”said Subramanya SV, co-founder of investment management app Fisdom.

Times of India