Paytm Aims For 1 Million Apps On Its Mini App Store
Signage for Paytm, operated by One97 Communications Ltd., hangs at a fruit juice shop in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Paytm Aims For 1 Million Apps On Its Mini App Store

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Paytm is aiming for a million apps on its mini-app store before March 2022 as it looks to challenge Google's dominance in the country's mobile app business.

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who had called Google "judge, jury and executioner" after his app was temporarily taken down from the Android app share last month, on Thursday called Google a "toll collector" as he kicked off his firm's mini-app developer conference.

Speaking to PTI, Sharma emphasised that the burgeoning Internet ecosystem in India should not be held at "ransom" by international companies whose policies are arbitrary.

"We stand for India's developing internet ecosystem. No company, from east or west, should be controlling our destiny. It does not matter which country you are, Indian technology ecosystem should not become ransom of international companies. And they (companies) should not have policies which are arbitrary and policy implementation which is even more arbitrary," Sharma said.

Also read: Google Delays India Payment Rules as Paytm Offers Alternative

He added that Paytm will invest Rs 10 crore for the app developers on its platform. Google's Android operating system powers most of the over 500 million smartphones in the country.

"Our intention is that people should be able to develop apps easily, fast...They (developers) don't have to put so much of cost and they get their customers. In our case, the charges are so minuscule...We are giving power to the developers, the torch painters of technology," he said.

Sharma said the company is focussed on offering all the help possible to Indian app developers. "This app store tax (by Google) will cost every Indian company who believes that they will reach their customers using technology. It's not that a few thousand app developers are being victimised, it literally means that any company in this country which believes that they will bring their services to the consumers, will have to play by the rules of Google where they have to pay 30% of their business revenues to them (Google)," he said.

Sharma noted that if app developers are charged a fee of 30% or more, the overall cost of their product and service will increase, which will in turn impact the price of the final product for the end-user as well.

Also read: Google Defers Play Store Billing Policy Till April 2022 In India After Pushback

Sharma - who has been vociferously voicing his concerns around the "monopolistic" behaviour of Google - said the steep 30% fee charged by the U.S.-based company was hurting small app developers, especially in segments like healthcare and education.

"App developers are dependent on a giant monopoly Google, and Google has started to play like a toll collector instead of trying to enable the ecosystem only...we will bring one million app before Google opens its charging obligation on each Indian developers," he said.

Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO of Matrimony.com, who was also present at the event alleged that Google's "tax" is like a distributor asking for 30% of the sales revenue as a cut.

On Sept. 18, Google had blocked Paytm from its Play Store for a few hours for violating its policy on sports betting activities. The app was later restored after the fintech app removed the 'cashback' feature linked to a game on the app.

Paytm had alleged that it was "arm-twisted" by the search engine major to comply with its biased Play Store policies "that are meant to artificially create Google's market dominance".

In the days that followed, Google clarified its Play policies to say that apps that chose to sell digital content through its Play Store, would have to use Google Play billing system and pay a percentage of the in-app purchase as a fee.

After facing ire from Indian developers, Google had said it was extending the time for developers in India to integrate with the Play billing system to March 31, 2022. Sharma said over 300 app-based service providers have already joined the programme, including the likes of Decathlon, Domino's Pizza, FreshMenu, Netmeds, NoBroker, Ola, and more.

Also read: India Startups Join Effort to Break Google, Facebook Dominance

These apps are expected to make their way to the Mini App Store soon. "Programmers and developers in India can build, they are not just the back office developers...We are the developers who can build the best apps... We are announcing a Rs 10 crore investment fund for app developers...these investment terms will be one of the most lenient investment terms that you can expect," he added.

The Android Mini App Store announced earlier this week was in development for the last 2-3 months, Sharma said. "Paytm will be like a rocket launcher...The 10 crore equity investment programme for startups will have some of the most lenient investment terms," Sharma said.

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