Google has pulled India's popular financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling policies. Paytm is the most valuable startup in India with over 50 million monthly active users. The Marquee app, which rivals Google Pay in India, disappeared from the country's Play Store early Friday.
Google said that the Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. Two people familiar with the matter told Business2Business that Paytm, which is promoting its fantasy sports service within its marquee app, has repeatedly violated Play Store policies. Paytm's fantasy sports service Paytm First Games, which is also available as a standalone app, has also been removed from the Play Store.
Additionally, the Android maker, which maintains similar guidelines in most other markets, has indicated that if an app takes consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, that's a violation of Play Store policies.
In an email reviewed by Business2Business, Google asked several companies in India to stop all ad campaigns to direct users to websites that provide installation files for sports betting applications.
Business2Business has reached out to Paytm for comment but has yet to respond (see below). Google Pay currently dominates the payment market in India.
Today's announcement from Google is also a pre-emptive attempt by the company to remind other developers of its gaming policies one day before the popular Indian Premier League cricket tournament starts.
Previous IPL seasons, which lasted nearly two months and attracted the attention of hundreds of millions of Indians, have seen an increase in apps seeking to promote or engage in sports betting.
Sports betting is banned in India, but fantasy sports where users choose their favorite players and win if their favorite team or players play well are illegal in most states in India.
A person familiar with the matter told Business2Business that Google had also requested Disney + Hotstar, one of India's most popular video-on-demand streaming services, to display a warning before running ads about fictitious sports apps.
"We have these policies in place to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we report the violation to the developer and remove the app from Google Play until the developer forces it to comply," wrote Suzanne Frey, vice president of Android production, security, and privacy, in a blog post.
"In the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action, which may include termination of Google Play developer accounts. Our policies are consistently applied and enforced by all developers consistently,” she added.
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