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Explained: Paytm vs. Google

On Friday, Goggle barred Paytm from Play Store on the grounds of violating the store’s gambling policies. It was restored within few hours after Paytm removed the contentious features, namely UPI cashback offer and scratch cards. Paytm highlighted Google pay enlisted similar campaigns. Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma showed his concern with the monopoly of certain global brands in India.

Google and Paytm (Source: Business Insider/India Today)

This came after Paytm launched Paytm Cricket League on September 11, which is a fantasy league for the IPL. Google removed Paytm after a week on September 18, which Paytm alleged happened “without an opportunity to respond.” “We maintain that our 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,” said Paytm. Paytm also mentioned that Paytm First Games’ promotion was also barred on their app as it did not comply with Google’s policy. However, the similar promotions were allowed on YouTube (owned by Google).

Google India emphasized in its official statement that according to its policy they 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 or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies.

“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,” the statement from Google said.

In their official blogpost, Paytm, which competes with Google’s e-commerce application in the Indian market, highlighted that Google Pay is endorsing a similar campaign – Tez Shots. Score Runs to earn assured rewards worth up to Rs 1. Lakh,” says Tez Shots campaign. “This will be familiar to all Indian internet companies since they face similar arm-twisting and fear of Google’s dominance over India’s digital ecosystem every day,” read the statement.

Sharma said that the company might be seeking government or regulatory intervention. According to Sharma, it is impossible for an Indian company to challenge app stores policies in India, since Google follows the American standards for legal disputes. He is concerned about taking on a ‘giant like Google in the Indian courts’ for it involves the hefty court and legal fees. He further added that the battle will be incredibly long drawn, “because these big Internet firms do not fully follow the rules and regulations in India and a developer might have to fight a concurrent case in the US court as well.”

Last year, Competition Commission of India (CCI) probed into Google’s actions with regards to Android phones and Google apps after Google was accused through several complains for engaging in anti-competitive practices. CCI found that the global tech giant was in fact, practising search manipulation and bias. While the access to competitive products was majorly reduced. Google faced a similar situation in Europe in 2018. The regulators imposed a $5 billion fine on the company. the CCI said in the order, “Google reduced the ability and incentive of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operated on alternate versions of Android.”

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