Paytm alleges unilateral action by Google, sparks discussions on alternative app store

Paytm alleges unilateral action by Google, sparks discussions on alternative app store
Photo Credit: VCCircle
21 Sep, 2020

Days after being yanked off Google Play store for flouting gambling policies, India’s most valued unicorn Paytm has published a blog post citing how it was given no time to respond to the charges. 

The ban came a day ahead of the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket tournament as the digital payments company Paytm was running a cricket-linked cashback programme on its app. 

The removal also triggered a discussion across social media platforms on creating an independent app store. Paytm CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma went on to say in multiple media interviews that Google acted unilaterally in taking down Paytm and was exploiting its dominant position in the market since Google owns Android operating system (OS). 

Paytm was back on Google Play within hours after being removed. The company said that Google sent an email only on September 18 at 11.30 am, a day before Paytm was taken down from the app store. 

“This was the first time that Google was sending us a notification regarding our UPI cashback and scratch cards campaign. Contrary to accepted practise, we were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views,” said the post. The blog further added that Google had reached out to Paytm  previously regarding promotion of its gaming app, Paytm First Games on its platform on three separate occasions, the latest being September 1.

Google Play blocks apps which redirect consumers to other apps through promotional links. The app store had taken down Mobikwik in May when the app redirected users to the link of NITI Aayog backed Covid-tracking app, Aarogya Setu. 

In the case of Paytm, Google in its blog, alleged that Paytm had flouted the platform’s policies on gambling. 

A statement from a Google spokesperson to TechCircle cited violation of these policies as the reason for taking Paytm out of Google Play. 

“Our policies don’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting, including daily fantasy sports in India. We enforce our policies very thoughtfully to provide a safe and secure experience for consumers, while also giving developers the platform and tools they need to build sustainable businesses,” said part of the statement shared by Google.

In its blog Paytm also pointed at Google Pay, the UPI-based third party payment platform for running a campaign similar to Paytm’s called Tez Shots which offered rewards and discounts to users, incentivising payments done through the platform.