Google has taken down India’s popular digital payments app Paytm and another fantasy sports platform Paytm First Games from its playstore for various policy violations related to online gambling and sports betting.
Google India said on Friday that the company decided to terminate Google Play Developer accounts after repeated policy violations by the app developer and they will only be brought back into the playstore when the developer complies by the regulations. According to data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Paytm currently has more than 450 million users in India.
Dear Paytm'ers,— Paytm (@Paytm) September 18, 2020
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.
“We don’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. This includes an app leading 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,” said Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy. Except in countries like France, Ireland and the UK, Google does not allow apps that contain content or services that facilitate online gambling.
For third party apps which advertise online gambling, Google’s policy requires that the ad must clearly display information about responsible gambling on its landing page, the advertised app listing itself or within the app. In addition, the app must not have an ownership interest in gambling or real money games, lotteries, or tournament services advertised.
Paytm meanwhile said that Google India had communicated to the company that the cash back feature with the recently launched ‘Paytm Cricket League’ on the consumer app is in violation of the playstore’s policy on gambling.
“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,” the payments major said in a statement. It added that all the activities on the app are lawful and that the cashback component has been temporarily removed to meet Google’s policy requirements.
“We continue to work with Google to restore the app. We assure all our users that their balances and linked accounts are 100% safe,” the company said.
The action by Google comes a day before the Indian Premier League kicks off. The cricket fever in the country has attracted millions of sports lovers to the online gambling and fantasy sports platforms, which haven't been banned in India yet. In fact, the IPL’s title sponsorship worth $32 million was recently won by Dream 11, a fantasy sports startup where people bet on their favourite teams/players to win real money games/prizes.