In an unexpected move, Google has removed the Paytm app from the Google Play Store for violating its gambling policies.
Paytm is one of the biggest e-commerce payment apps in the Indian market, with over 50 million monthly active users. In response, Paytm wrote in a tweet that the app would be back very soon.
In a stand-alone announcement post, Google said that the Play Store does not support Android apps that delve into online casino activities, support gambling, or facilitate sports betting. It is to be noted that the search giant didn’t take any names which means other apps might have been affected as well.
This comes after Paytm recently instilled a fantasy cricket tournament within the app. Google has also removed the Paytm First games app, which also featured sports fantasy games.
“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,” Google said in a blog post.
The announcement comes a day before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the country. Sports betting is prohibited in India; however the laws have been easy on Android apps that promote sports betting. To top it off, many fantasy sports have come up on the Google Play Store, where Indian users can bet on their favorite fantasy teams and players.
The Paytm app will most likely return in a while, but such a stringent step from Google make it clear that the tech giant is serious about apps facilitating gambling practices.
Paytm Gets back at Google
Paytm confirmed the recent introduction of the Paytm Cricket League was the reason behind Google pulling the app out of the Play Store. According to Paytm, the game allowed users to get stickers and cashback, which Google “believe(ed) to be a violation of their Play Store policies on gambling.”
The company has since removed the cashback component from the game, and the app is now back on the Google Play Store.
Madhur Deora, president of One97 Communications Pvt., which owns Paytm, said Google is breaking competition rules. “They have all the levers and can decide which app can be brought down and when — how is that not a problem?” he said in a statement.
Paytm app founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said this is a problem faced by several Indian startups where a monopoly of certain players exists. “We are at the mercy of our gods at Google,” he told CNBC-TV18.