Paytm fires back at Google, says it ‘arm twisted' to withdraw cashback scheme

Two days after its primary app was taken down from the Google Play Store, digital payments company Paytm charged that Google “arm-twisted” it to pull back its Unified Payments Interface cashback campaign even when its digital payments app Google Pay ran a comparable interface. Paytm called the decision to withdraw its application from the Google Play store “unjustified”.

Paytm explained the series of events that resulted in the withdrawal of the app from the Google Play store. “We maintain that our cashback campaign was within guidelines, as well as all laws of the land. We did not break any rules and there was no violation. It is not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever,” it said.

“This will be familiar to all Indian internet companies since they face similar arm-twisting and fear of Google’s dominance over India’s digital ecosystem every day,” it added.

Google Play Support had sent an email to Paytmcentering the withdrawal of the app. The email stated, “Your app contains content that doesn’t comply with the Gambling policy as it offers games with ‘loyalty’ (e.g. engagement or activity) points that (1) are accrued or accelerated via real-money purchases which (2) can be exchanged for items or prizes of real-world monetary value.”

Paytm said that this was the first time Google had sent such an email to the app related to the UPI cashback and scratch card campaign. The blog post stated, “Contrary to accepted practice, we were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views. We maintain that our cashback campaign was within guidelines, as well as all laws of the land. We did not break any rules and there was no violation. It is not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever.”

Paytm also stated that Google has major control over what apps a user downloads through its Play Store policies while making money off advertising revenues from the Indian startups that build these apps.

Regarding the ban on the Paytm First Games, the Mint stated that it might have been because of the endeavour of the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), which said Google was biased towards certain fantasy gaming apps, pointing at Paytm First Games.

“While we strenuously disagreed with the allegation that we are breaching the policy (and we disagree with the policy itself too), we immediately complied with the diktat that barred us from promoting our gaming subsidiary. We wish to make it clear that driving traffic or promoting fantasy sports is not gambling! [ …] Paytm First Games can do a paid promotion on YouTube (which is owned by Google), but it is not allowed to do the same advertisement on the Paytm app, as per Google Policy,” said Paytm in its blog.

 

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