Google pulled the popular Indian financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling guidelines. Paytm is India's most valuable startup and has over 50 million active users every month. The marquee app that competes with Google Pay in India disappeared from the country's Play Store on Friday.
According to Google, the Play Store bans online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. Paytm, which advertises fantasy sports services on its marquee app, has repeatedly violated the Play Store's policies, two people familiar with the matter told theinformationsuperhighway. Paytm's fantasy sports service Paytm First Games, which is also available as a standalone app, was also accessed from the Play Store.
The Android maker, which has similar guidelines in most other markets, also found that an app that takes consumers to an external website where they can compete in paid tournaments for real money or cash prizes is also against violates the guidelines of the Play Store.
In an email verified by theinformationsuperhighway, Google told several companies in India to pause all advertising campaigns in order to direct users to websites that offer sports betting app installation files.
theinformationsuperhighway has asked Paytm for a comment but has not yet received a response (see below). Google's Pay app is currently dominating the payments market in India.
Dear Paytm & # 39; ers,
The Paytm Android app is temporarily not available for new downloads or updates in the Google Play Store. It will be back very soon.
All your money is completely safe and you can continue to enjoy your Paytm app as usual.
– Paytm (@Paytm) September 18, 2020
Today's announcement from Google is also a preventative effort by the company to remind other developers of its gambling guidelines the day before the popular Indian Premier League cricket tournament is scheduled to start.
In previous IPL seasons, which lasted nearly two months and attracted the attention of hundreds of millions of Indians, there has been a surge in apps designed to promote or participate in sports betting.
Sports betting is banned in India, but fantasy sports where users pick their favorite players and win when their preferred team or players play well are not illegal in most Indian states.
A person familiar with the matter told theinformationsuperhighway that Google has also asked Disney + Hotstar, one of the most popular on-demand video streaming services in India, to display a warning before serving ads on fantasy sports apps.
“We have these guidelines to help protect users from potential harm. If an app violates these guidelines, we will 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 of product, Android security and privacy, in a blog post .
“And if there are repeated policy violations, we can take more serious action, including terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our guidelines are consistently applied and enforced by all developers, ”she added.