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Bengaluru, NFAPost: Google Play Store on Friday has pulled down popular financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling policies.

But Paytm made it clear that customers money is safe and the app will be restored back soon taking into account the concerns raised by Google App Store.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma founded Paytm is one of the most valuable startup and claims to have more than 50 monthly actively users and competes with Google Pay, PhonePe and Amazon Pay.

Google decision comes as it prohibits online casions and other unregulated gambling app that facilitates sports betting in India. Paytm’s fantasy sports service, called Paytm First Games, was also available as a standalone app and it has been pulled, too, from the Play Store.

The decision comes at a time IPL wind is likely to hit the country soon. 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 allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes will also be deemed in violation of its Play Store policies.

Guidelines to developers

Paytm made it clear that the received communication from Google that they are suspending our app because they believe this to be a violation of their Play Store policies on gambling.

“The Paytm Android app has thus been unlisted from Google’s Play Store and is temporarily unavailable to users for new downloads or updates,” states the company in a statement.

In a recent development, Google Play Store issued guidelines to developers to stop all advertising campaigns in their apps to drive users to websites that offer installation files of sports betting apps.

Google made it clear that the company is designed to provide a safe and secure experience for our consumers while also giving developers the platform and tools they need to build sustainable businesses. And, the same goals for our gambling policy.

“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 or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies,” said Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, in a blog post.

Violates policy

“We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance,” wrote Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, in a blog post.

“And in the case where there are 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,” 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 acquire new users. He acknowledged that Google had reached out to Paytm before and raised concerns about Paytm First Games, but the incident with Paytm’s main app, he said, is “nothing but” for paying cashback to customers, he said.

Digital business

The cashbacks were issued in ways of cricket-themed scratch cards, he said, adding that if Paytm can’t issue cashback to customers, the rule should apply to every player. Google Pay, as well as Walmart’s PhonePe give customers similar incentives in India.

“This is the problem of India’s app ecosystem. So many founders have reached out to us… if we believe this country can build digital business, we must know that it is at somebody else’s hand to bless that business and not this country’s rules and regulations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), an “industry body” that represents some fantasy sports firms, claims it complained to Google to take action on companies that distribute or promote fantasy sports through Play Store.

Dream Sports, the parent firm of India’s most popular fantasy sports app Dream 11, is the founding member of FIFS. Dream11 app is not available on Play Store.

Paytm version

The leader in India’s digital landscape made it clear that all customers account balances are 100% safe and the company’s services are fully functional and existing users can continue enjoying Paytm like before.

“While it is clear that all activities on Paytm are completely lawful, we have temporarily removed the cashback component in an effort to meet the Play Store policy requirements. We continue to work with Google to restore the app. We assure all our users that their balances and linked accounts are 100% safe. Our services are fully functional on all existing apps and you can continue enjoying Paytm like before,” states the company its Blog.

Paytm recently launched the ‘Paytm Cricket League’ on the consumer app for users to engage in their passion of cricket and get cashback. The game allows users to get player stickers after each transaction, collect them and receive Paytm Cashback.

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