Updated at September 22, 2020:
Google has issued a statement which reads “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“.
Our original story from Monday, September 21, 2020, follows:
Two days after the big mess up between Google and Paytm, where the Paytm android app was taken down from the Google Play Store in the name of gambling policies, the digital payment firm has come up with an official blog post in which it calls the action by the search giant “arm-twisting”. It also quotes the general mindset of Indian internet companies – “fear of Google’s dominance over India’s digital ecosystem every day“.
The Paytm storyline of last week events:
- On September 11, Paytm launches its Cricket League on the app were users can collect cricket stickers and scratch cards to earn UPI cashback.
- After a few days on September 18 (11.30 AM) Paytm receives a mail from Google Pay support informing them the app was delisted or removed.
“Your app contains content that doesn’t comply with the Gambling policy as it offers games with “loyalty” (e.g. engagement or activity) points that (1) are accrued or accelerated via real-money purchases which (2) can be exchanged for items or prizes of real-world monetary value“.
- The company claims that Google even didn’t allow it to explain its new cashback “Paytm Cricket League” or put forth their views.
- Adding salt to the pain, Google insinuated Paytm to be a gambling app, and later indirectly through a blog post in Google Indian official blog. This seems to be defamatory in nature, the payment firm said in the blog.
“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 in its blog.
Google Pay (Tez) does the same
Paytm highlights in its blog that Google’s payment app in India Google Pay (Tez) does the same thing. At the start of IPL 2020, Google Pay launched “Tez Shots” campaign which clearly says, “Score Runs to earn assured rewards worth up to Rs 1. lakh,“. It’s a game where users can play a cricket game to earn points that can be used to unlock vouchers and cashback.
Thus, Paytm alleges that “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 apps“.
However, Paytm confirms that Google Pay support reached out on 3 occasions (on August 20th, August 28th and September 1st) with some concerns on a separate matter of Paytm First Games promotion through the Paytm app. Note that, Google has also delisted Paytm First Games from Play Store and it’s yet to be reinitiated.
“While we 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,” said Paytm in the blog.
In strong words, Paytm said, “Google’s recent action on de-listing Paytm app because of a cashback campaign is unjustified. We reiterate that our cashback campaign was within guidelines, and there was no violation,”.
However, the Indian unicorn is stopping the blog post saying “There is a bigger question here that the Indian startup ecosystem and developers should think about. As a startup, we are running law-abiding businesses and building for India. Google and its employees are making policies which are over and above the laws of our country, and are arbitrarily implementing them“.
Thus the Google and Paytm fight have taken a new turn. It’s now a competition of multinational corporations who are from outside India controlling and ruling the Indian startup ecosystem or home-grown companies.