Google has hit back at Paytm, a day after India’s most valuable startup accused the company of violating competition rules after it delisted the Paytm app from the Play Store on September 18 for allegedly violating its gambling policies. In a statement given out to the media over email, a Google spokesperson said that the Paytm app was not pulled from the Play Store for offering cashbacks alone.
Paytm had earlier said that Google had suspended the Paytm app for launching a UPI cashback campaign titled Paytm Cricket League, even as its own rival platform Google Pay regularly ran similar campaigns in India and that Google had arm-twisted Paytm into removing its offer in order to make Play Store comeback.
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“Offering cashbacks and vouchers alone do not constitute a violation of our Google Play gambling policies,” the Google spokesperson said, adding that “our policies don’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting, including daily fantasy sports in India.”
In a strongly worded blog post published on September 20, Paytm had said that its cashback campaign was within guidelines, as well as all laws of the land. “We did not break any rules and there was no violation. It is not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever,” the company had said, adding that “contrary to accepted practise, we were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views.”
Paytm had also accused google of (mis)using its dominance over India’s digital ecosystem in the same blog post. “Presumably, such cashback campaigns of Google Pay are not in breach of Play Store policies, or maybe they are, but a different set of rules apply to Google’s own apps.”
Google does not allow online casinos or unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting on the Play Store. Apps that lead consumers to external websites that allow them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes are also not allowed on the Play Store, as per the guidelines. Paytm which competes directly with Google Pay in India and is claimed to have over 50 million monthly active users promotes (or at least it used to) its standalone fantasy sports app “Paytm First Games” within its main app.
Paytm had also clarified on this front saying that even though it “strenuously disagreed with the allegation that we are breaching the policy (and we disagree with the policy itself too), we immediately complied with the diktat that barred us from promoting our gaming subsidiary.”