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Paytm accuses Google of anti-competitive behavior, app reinstated on Play Store

Update: Paytm is now back on the Google Play Store, but the Paytm First Games app is still down.

Published onSeptember 18, 2020

  • Google removed the Paytm app from the Play Store earlier in the day.
  • It’s one of the largest mobile payment platforms in India.
  • Paytm claims Google’s flouted competition rules.

Update: September 18, 2020 (11:30 AM ET): The main Paytm payments app is now back on the Google Play Store. However, the Paytm First Games app is still down. One97 Communications — the company that owns Paytm — has now hit back at Google. It claims (via Bloomberg) that Google violated competition rules by removing Paytm from the Play Store.

“They have all the levers and can decide which app can be brought down and when. How is that not a problem?” Madhur Deora, President, One97 Communications told Bloomberg. “You’ve got a player which regulates India’s digital ecosystem while competing with many companies in the same ecosystem,” he added.

Original article: September 18, 2020 (5:58 AM ET):  Google has pulled the Paytm app from the Play Store citing policy violations. The mobile payments app can no longer be downloaded from the Google Play Store, but if you already have it, it should work just fine.

Paytm is one of India’s most popular, if not the biggest, online payments and money transfer platforms. According to its data, the Paytm app has over 200 million active users, eclipsing the user base of competitors like Google Pay and PhonePe. It’s also the most valued Indian startup with names like Softbank, Berkshire Hathaway, SAIF Partners, and others backing it.

In a blog post released today, Google said that it doesn’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. “This includes if an app leads 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,” the company noted.

The reason for Paytm’s removal?

The Paytm app repeatedly violated these policies, sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The trouble started after Paytm launched a Cricket League Contest on its app that allowed users to win stickers and then exchange them for cash. Even though Google’s own payments app runs similar scratch-and-win promotions, the Paytm app was found to be violating Play Store policies and was booted from it alongside the Paytm First Games app.

Google warned in its blog post that “in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we [Google] may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts.”

Paytm, meanwhile, has promised that its app will be back very soon. In a tweet, the company assured that “all your money is completely safe and you can continue to enjoy your Paytm app as normal.”

Paytm Google Play Store Removal Tweet
Paytm / Twitter

Google has also reportedly asked Disney Plus Hotstar to display a warning before running ads for fantasy sports apps.

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