Google hits back at Paytm ⁠— reiterates that ‘repeated policy violations’ will lead to stricter actions

BI India
  • Google has released a fresh statement on September 21 (Monday) saying that cashbacks and vouchers don’t alone constitute a violation.
  • Paytm had released a blog on September 20 (Sunday) stating all that happened on Friday and said that “suddenly UPI cashback is called an “online casino” by Google”.
  • Paytm was removed from the Play Store for about seven hours on a Friday.
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The Indian tech ecosystem is witnessing a war raging between one of India’s leading digital payments players Paytm and the tech giant Google. After Paytm was removed from the Play Store for about seven hours on a Friday, founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma had gone on record to say that Google was acting like the “ judge, jury and executioner”.

Paytm released a blog on September 20 (Sunday) stating all that happened on Friday and said that “suddenly UPI cashback is called an “online casino” by Google”.

Fighting back, Google has released a fresh statement on September 21 (Monday) saying that “offering cashbacks and vouchers alone do not constitute a violation of our Google Play gambling policies”. It also let out a warning in its statement.

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“Last week we reiterated our Play Store gambling policies. 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. In the case of repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently,” Google said in a statement on Monday.

The ‘policy’ in controversy

While Google continues to say that the violation is regarding fantasy gaming promotions, Paytm has had a different story to tell.

Paytm said that its recently launched mode of gamification where after every transaction you get a scratch card with a cricket sticker (a player's image and name), was the reason for the ban.
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“The Google Play Support team had written to us on 3 occasions (on August 20th, August 28th and September 1st) with some concerns on a separate matter of Paytm First Games’ promotion through the Paytm app. While we strenuously disagreed with the allegation that we are breaching the policy (and we disagree with the policy itself too), we immediately complied with the diktat that barred us from promoting our gaming subsidiary,” Paytm wrote on its blog.

The move by Google has been questioned by many in the Indian startup ecosystem with even Paytm suggesting that it was on the lines of ‘anti-competitiveness’.

The digital payments startup even went on to compare its own cricket-driven cashback program to that of its competitor Google Pay’s ‘Tez Shots’ campaign which runs on similar lines. “Presumably, such cashback campaigns of Google Pay are not in breach of Play Store policies, or maybe they are, but a different set of rules apply to Google’s own apps,” said Paytm.
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