[Update 2: Google’s statement] Paytm removed from Google Play Store for policy violations, likely due to its fantasy gaming platform
Back before Google Tez had not made its debut in India, one of the most dominant platforms for online payments in the country was Paytm. Paytm made its debut in India in 2010 as a platform allowing users to recharge their phone connections, and it later expanded into more payment avenues such as DTH, landline, and so on. In recent years, the app has ballooned from being a platform for making payments to being its own payment gateway as well as e-commerce platform. It certainly dabbled into a lot of different areas, which is why it could boast of over 350 million users despite stiff competition. However, the app has mysteriously disappeared from the Google Play Store, possibly because of its violations towards Google’s guidelines on online gambling.
Google released a blog explaining its gambling policies, which appeared to be a little curious coming out of the blue. Essentially, the company reiterated that they “do not allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting“. This further “includes an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes“. When apps violate policies, the developers are notified of the violation and the app is removed from the Google Play Store until the app developer makes changes to bring the app back into compliance. Repeated policy violations lead to a termination of the Google Play Developer account.
Paytm tweeted out around the same time:
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.
— Paytm (@Paytm) September 18, 2020
As LiveMint notes, Paytm was recently promoting its fantasy gaming platform called Paytm First Games, coinciding with the launch of the major cricket tournament, IPL, in India. Paytm First Games offers over 50 games where the most popular is fantasy sports where players engage with live sporting events.
Are you ready to play the Paytm Cricket League? #PCL 🏆
Collect player cards, create your own team & win prizes worth up to ₹5 CRORE!
— Paytm (@Paytm) September 17, 2020
Indian laws heavily regulate gambling in many states, and Google’s own guidelines further work into it to disallow gambling apps to use the Play Store as a platform for distribution. Paytm promises to make its way back into the Play Store, so we presume that they will decouple the fantasy gaming platform from the main fintech app.
Update: Paytm reinstated
The main Paytm app has been reinstated to the Google Play Store. However, the Paytm First Games app still remains removed.
Update 2: Google offers statement on the Play Store’s gambling policies
Google has offered a clarificatory statement on the Play Store’s gambling policies:
Offering cashbacks and vouchers alone do not constitute a violation of our Google Play gambling policies. 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.