Google has pulled Indian financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling policies. Paytm is India’s most valued startup and claims over 50 million monthly active users. Its marquee app, which allows users to exchange money with one another, disappeared from the Play Store in India earlier Friday.
On Friday, Google said that Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India, a day before the popular cricket tournament Indian Premier League is scheduled to kick off. Paytm app repeatedly violated company’s policies, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The Android-maker, which maintains similar guidelines in most other markets, additionally noted that if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes is also in violation of its Play Store policies.
TechCrunch has reached out to Paytm but has yet to hear back.
Previous seasons of IPL, which last for nearly two months and attract the attention of hundreds of millions of Indians, have seen a surge in apps that look to promote or participate in sports betting.
Sports betting is banned in India, but fantasy sports where users select their favorite players and win if their preferred team or players play well is not illegal in most Indian states.
A person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that Google has also asked Disney+ Hotstar, one of the most popular on-demand video streaming services in India, to display a warning before running ads for fantasy sports apps.
“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,” wrote Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, in a blog post.
“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,” she added.
More to follow…