Wednesday 28 October 2020

Google pulls India’s Paytm app from Play Store for repeat policy violations

Google said that Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India

Google has pulled the popular Indian monetary payment service application (app) Paytm from its Play Store for violating its “gambling” policies. Paytm is the most valuable startup in India. It claims over 50 million monthly active users.

Paytm’s marquee app, which competes with Google Pay in India, disappeared from the Play Store in the country earlier on 18 September.

Google says Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. Paytm, which promotes fantasy sports service within its marquee app, repeatedly violated Play Store’s policies, two people familiar with the matter said.

Paytm’s fantasy sports service Paytm First Games, which is available also as a standalone app, was pulled from the Play Store.

Android-maker Google, which maintains similar guidelines in most other markets, additionally noted that if an app led consumers to an external website that allowed them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, that is in violation of its Play Store policies too.

Paytm has not commented on the development so far. The Google Pay app currently dominates the payments market in India.

The announcement from Google is a pre-emptive attempt from the company to remind other developers about its gambling policies a day before the popular cricket tournament Indian Premier League is scheduled to kick off.

Previous seasons of IPL, which last for nearly two months and attract the attention of hundreds of millions of Indians, have seen a surge in apps that look to promote or participate in sports betting.

Sports betting is banned in India, but fantasy sports where users select their favorite players and win if their preferred team or players play well is not illegal in most Indian states.

A person familiar with the matter said that Google has asked Disney+ Hotstar, one of the most popular on-demand video streaming services in India, to display a warning before running ads about fantasy sports apps.

“We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. 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,” wrote Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, in a blog post.

“And in the case where there are 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,” she added.

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