In a Friday thriller, the homegrown payment gateway Paytm app was taken down from Google Play for its alleged violation of gambling policies and reinstated within a few hours as the issue became too hot to handle for Google. Paytm has accused Google of muzzling Indian products while Google’s own product Google Pay has similar cashback promotions.
Soon after the take down, One97 Communications Ltd, which runs the Paytm App tweeted “Dear Paytm’ers, Paytm Android app is temporarily unavailable on Google’s Play Store for new downloads or updates. It will be back very soon. All your money is completely safe, and you can continue to enjoy your Paytm app as normal.
Google’s Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy wrote a lengthy blog Understanding our Play gambling policies in India stating “we don’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.”
Explaining the take down, Paytm released a blog post Your Money is Safe with us – the Paytm Android App will be back on Google Play Store shortly “
We recently launched the ‘Paytm Cricket League’ on our consumer app for users to engage in their passion of cricket and get cashback. The game allows users to get player stickers after each transaction, collect them and receive Paytm Cashback.
Today afternoon, we received communication from Google that they are suspending our app because they believe this to be a violation of their Play Store policies on gambling. The Paytm Android app has thus been unlisted from Google’s Play Store and is temporarily unavailable to users for new downloads or updates.”
Later on, it updated “The Paytm Android App is back on Google’s Play Store.”
Paytm plays Aatma Nirbhar card
Google takedown has not gone well with Paytm. The company release says “giving cashbacks is a standard industry practice followed by all major players, including Google Pay. The US-based tech giants has doled out millions in cashback to gain market share in India. The Noida headquartered Paytm is the country’s largest payments app and competes with Google Pay.”
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm was on the Television accusing Google of ‘arm twisting Indian apps’. He said that “this one-sided action by Google challenges the whole concept of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat for the app ecosystem in the country.”
He further said that this is a way to arm-twist companies that are innovating for India. “It also thwarts the government push to promote digital payments with UPI as the cashback which is given on Paytm is directly credited as UPI,” he said.
“The same campaign is running on several apps, including GPay, they all give stickers & scratch cards. We need to see whether we allow foreign companies to own and rule our ecosystem like this. It is not a question of policy, but its implementation – extremely unfair implementation Google itself plays similar promos. It looks like a well-thought-out plan,” he said in an interview with media.
Paytm Vs Google Pay
Google Pay has around 75 million transacting users in May, this year while PhonePe and Paytm recorded 60 million and 30 million users, respectively.
As per Redseer Consulting, Paytm is the largest player in the Merchant Payments (P2M) market with a 50% market share and followed by PhonePe and Google Pay.