Paytm First Games came into much limelight recently by roping in cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador to help create awareness about the fantasy sports genre in the country.
Paytm is claimed to have over 50 million monthly active users. (Photo credit: Reuters)
Google has pulled Paytm and its standalone fantasy sports app Paytm First Games from the Play Store for allegedly violating its gambling policies. As per the guidelines, Google does not allow online casinos or unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting on the Play Store. The same is true for apps that lead consumers to external websites that allow them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes. The same Play Store policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently.
Paytm which is claimed to have over 50 million monthly active users promotes fantasy sports within its main app. Paytm also offers over 50 such games supposedly engaging with over 80 million gaming enthusiasts through its dedicated Paytm First Games app. The Paytm subsidiary came into much limelight recently by roping in cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador to help create awareness about the fantasy sports genre in the country. Paytm First Games has also announced that it will invest Rs 300 crore on branding and marketing this year.
Google’s ban on Paytm and Paytm First Games comes just a day before the Indian Premier League 2020 is scheduled to kick off. Clearly, there’s a message or two in there somewhere.
“We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. 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,” Google’s Suzanne Frey said in a blog post.
Now, it isn’t clear if Paytm (and by extension Paytm First Games) was a one time or repeat offender. In case if it was a one-time occurrence, Google will essentially sit with the developer to explain what they’re doing wrong with their app and how they can fix it. The next step would be for the developer to fix the app, in this case, remove the alleged gambling element and send it back for approval. Once approved by Google, the app(s) will be back on the Play Store.
In case Paytm was a repeat offender, the “punishment” would me more severe. As mentioned by Suzanne, Google will terminate the developer’s Google Play Developer account in which case it will be difficult for Paytm and Paytm First Games to make a comeback on the Play Store at least in their current form.
Paytm has hinted that the ban could be “temporary” which seems to suggest it might not have been a repeat offender of Google’s guidelines.
In case if you are an existing Paytm user on Android, you can continue to use the app as usual but you won’t receive any “official” updates until the time the ban is lifted. Paytm has assured “all your money is completely safe.” As for new users (and users who may have uninstalled the apps previously), both Paytm and Paytm First Games are no longer available on the Play Store which means you can’t download them until further notice.