Paytm Group, which bills itself as “India's leading financial services company,” on Sunday (Sept. 20) accused Google of “arm-twisting” startups that depend on the Android mobile operating system.
Android reportedly runs 95 percent of smartphones in India.
Paytm’s blog post states: “Paytm was temporarily removed from the Google Play Store. We were forced to comply with Google’s mandate of removing our UPI cashback offer and scratch cards to get re-listed ... 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.”
After giving arguments to back up its position that Google acted unfairly, the post concludes: “There is a bigger question here that the Indian startup ecosystem and developers should think about. As a startup, we are running law-abiding businesses and building for India. Google and its employees are making policies which are over and above the laws of our country, and are arbitrarily implementing them.”
In an interview Tuesday (Sept. 22) on CNBC, Paytm President Madhur Deora said there is “a big sword that is hanging over the necks of all Indian start-ups who are innovating for India … that Google can one day decide that they no longer like your app and effectively remove access to it.”
Google offered its own take on the situation, though without identifying Paytm specifically, in a post on its Google India blog titled “Understanding our Play gambling policies in India.”
In the post, Suzanne Frey, Google’s vice president for product, Android security and privacy, wrote: “Google Play 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. Our global policies have always been designed with that goal in mind, considering the good of all our stakeholders.”
Frey continued, “We have 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.”
Those policies are in place “to protect users from potential harm,” Frey wrote. “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. 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.”
According to CNBC, Google and Paytm are battling for payments market share in India.