Google Brings Back Paytm App After Removing It For Gambling Policy Violation
Paytm remained unavailable for Android users for several hours on Friday after Google pulled it citing violation of gambling policy. The app returned to the Play store by evening after the payments firm complied.
The app of India’s most-valued startup was found violating the gaming policy in the country, according to a Google spokesperson. The app then remained unavailable for Android subscribers who use Paytm for mobile, DTH and utility payments, bookings flights and trains and much more. The payments firm has 350 million users in India.
Paytm First games, a fantasy gaming platform, is still not available on Google Play.
Google, without directly naming Paytm, put out a blogpost in the morning outlining its gambling policy. According to it, the firm doesn’t allow online casinos/support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. “This includes if app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money/cash prizes.”
“When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance,” the blog said. “And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts.”
A person privy to the matter said that the app was removed after Paytm repeatedly violated its gambling policy.
While Alibaba-backed Paytm complied with Google's policy, it questioned the move saying that a cashback scheme isn't gambling.
In a blogpost in the evening, Paytm said the app was removed because it had launched a campaign called Paytm Cricket League on the Paytm app, allowing users to get player stickers after each transaction, which could be collected to earn a cashback. “While it is clear that all activities on Paytm are completely lawful, we have temporarily removed the cashback component in an effort to meet the Play Store policy requirements."
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, while announcing the app's return, also tweeted that the it was suspended because of the cashback scheme. "India, you decide if giving cash back was gambling."
According to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Paytm is not the only online platform offering such a promotion. BloombergQuint could not independently confirm this.
(Updates an earlier version after Google brought back the Paytm app on Play store)