Google removes Paytm from Play Store: Here's why
Paytm, one of India's most valuable start-ups, has suffered a major setback. The company's main application, designed to provide financial and other services, has been removed from the Google Play Store. The action was taken a few hours ago, leaving people puzzled. But as it turns out, it was a policy violation that forced Google's hand. Here's what went down.
Paytm disappeared this morning
Earlier today, the Paytm app, which boasts of more than 50 million monthly active users, disappeared from the Play Store. The mysterious removal raised questions from the public, especially considering the recent bans that have been imposed against Chinese apps. Paytm counts China's Alibaba and its affiliates among its major investors. They collectively own over 25% in Paytm's parent company, One97 Communications.
Other apps not removed
While the main Paytm app went missing, other key Paytm entities, including Paytm Mall and Paytm Money, are available on the Google Play Store. On Twitter, the company wrote, "Paytm Android app is temporarily unavailable on Google's Play Store for new downloads or updates. It will be back very soon." It also noted that those who already have the app can continue using it.
You can read Paytm's tweet here
Dear Paytm'ers,— Paytm (@Paytm) September 18, 2020
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.
But, why this action has been taken?
Paytm has not explained why the app has been pulled, but TechCrunch's sources say that the action has been taken due to a violation of Google Play Store's policies on online gambling. Google prohibits online casinos and other betting apps on its marketplace; Paytm promoted its fantasy sports service, Paytm First Games, within the app, violating the regulations.
Google's Product VP for Android Security has this to say
"We don't allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. This includes if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money, it is a violation of our policies."
Return timeline remains unclear
Having that said, Paytm should be able to return by simply removing the link to the policy-violating service. The company has already announced that the app will be back soon, but the timeline remains unclear at this stage, which would leave new users of the service hanging. Not to mention, it is also a big blow for the reputation of the payments unicorn.
Paytm First Games' dedicated app has also been removed
Notably, the dedicated app of Paytm First Games has also been removed over similar concerns. It is not clear when or if the service, which features several "play and win" titles and tournaments, would return on the marketplace.
Google is tightening its policy over fantasy sports games
Google's action comes just ahead of IPL 2020, the cricketing event known to have surged the popularity of fantasy sports, wherein people pick their team and win cash if the chosen players perform well. Reportedly, the company has also written to several Indian firms using its advertising platform to stop campaigns aimed at driving users to sites offering APKs of fantasy sports apps.