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Google pulls India’s Paytm app from Play Store for repeat policy violations

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Google has pulled popular Indian financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling policies. Paytm is India’s most precious startup and claims over 50 million monthly active users. Its marquee app, which competes with Google Pay in India, disappeared from the Play Store within the country earlier Friday.

Google said that Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. Paytm, which promotes fantasy sports service within its marquee app, repeatedly violated Play Store’s policies, two people conversant in the matter told TechCrunch. Paytm’s fantasy sports service, called Paytm First Games, was also available as a standalone app and it's been pulled, too, from the Play Store.

The Android-maker, which maintains similar guidelines around gambling in most other markets, additionally noted that if an app leads consumers to an external website that permits them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes also will be deemed in violation of its Play Store policies.

In an email Google has sent to several firms in India, and was reviewed by TechCrunch, the corporate has asked developers to pause all advertising campaigns in their apps to drive users to websites that provide installation files of sports betting apps.

TechCrunch has reached bent Paytm for comment but has yet to listen to back (see below and at rock bottom of the story). Google’s Pay app currently dominates the payments market in India.

The announcement today from Google is additionally a preemptive attempt from the corporate to remind other developers about its gambling policies each day before the favored cricket tournament Indian Premier League is scheduled to begin .

Previous seasons of IPL, which last for nearly two months and attract the eye of many many Indians, have seen a surge in apps that look to market or participate in sports betting.

While sports betting is banned in India, fantasy sports, where users select their favorite players and win if their preferred teams or players play well, isn't illegal in most Indian states.

A person conversant in the matter told TechCrunch that Google has also asked Disney+ Hotstar, one among the foremost popular on-demand video streaming services in India, to display a warning before running ads about fantasy sports apps.

“We have these policies to guard users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and take away the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance,” wrote Suzanne Frey, vice chairman , Product, Android Security and Privacy, during a blog post.

“And within the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which can include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently,” she added.

In a televised interview with CNBC TV18, Paytm co-founder and chief executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma accused Google of not allowing Paytm to accumulate new users.

He said Google has raised issue with Paytm issuing cashback to customers. These cashbacks were issued in ways of cricket-themed scratch cards. “We are at the mercy of gods at Google,” he said.

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