Paytm app back on Google PlayStore after removal over policy violations

Google removes Paytm mobile app from store over policy violations
A worker adjusts a hoarding of Paytm, a digital payments firm, in Ahmedabad, India, January 31, 2019. Reuters/Amit Dave/File Photo
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New Delhi: Digital payments firm Paytm on Friday said its mobile app was back on Google's android store after the US tech giant kept it offline for several hours, citing the SoftBank-backed Indian company's violations of its gambling policy.

"Update: And we're back!" Paytm told users on Twitter, some of whom had expressed concerns about their money in the company's digital wallet and bank.

Earlier on Friday, Alphabet Inc's Google said in blog post that it did not 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," it added.

The blog post did not name Paytm, but Google separately confirmed the removal for policy violations.

Paytm, which also counts Alibaba and Berkshire Hathaway among its backers, confirmed that Google had removed its app.

Launched a decade ago as a platform for mobile recharges, Paytm grew quickly after ride-hailing firm Uber listed it as a quick payment option. Its use swelled further in 2016 when India banned certain high-value currency notes, causing a immense shortage of currency in the economy for months.

It currently competes with global players such as Google Pay and Walmart's PhonePe in India's digital payments market which is set to more than double in value to $135 billion by 2023 from 2019, according to PwC and Indian lobby group ASSOCHAM.

The company had not breached Google policies but was running an offer that gave its users stickers, for payments and money transfers, which could then be used to redeem cashbacks - a move Google deemed as gambling, a Paytm spokesman told Reuters.

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said the company has already removed the scratch cards which offered the cashbacks, complying with Google's concerns.

Stating that Google was not allowing it to acquire new customers by blocking Paytm's promotion, Sharma said India needs support for further growing the startup ecosystem.

"(Platforms like Google) are dominating platforms and with power comes responsibility. I believe that they should be responsible for this country's growth and startup ecosystem...India's ecosystem needs support, not stifling of innovation," he told news channel CNBC-TV18.

Google did not respond to a request seeking comment on how Paytm's cashback offer violated its policies.

(With inputs from Reuters and PTI)

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