Monday, September 21, 2020

*Google's Play Store policies forced Paytm to roll back UPI cashback Campaign*

- Paytm arm-twisted to take down its campaign while Google Pay running similar cricket-based promotions 


New Delhi, September 21, 2020: India's homegrown financial services platform Paytm today said that it was forced to comply with Google’s mandate to remove UPI cashback and scratch cards campaign to get re-listed on the Android Play Store. Offering both is legal in India, and cashback was being given following all rules and regulations set by the government. The company in a detailed blog post explained how it was "arm-twisted" by the search engine major to comply with its biased app Play Store policies that are meant to artificially create Google's market dominance. 


After getting temporarily de-listed, Paytm app was restored on the Play Store in a few hours. During this period it was only not able to acquire new users, however, the app was fully operational and all its services were available to its users.


Detailing the sequence of events, the company said in its blog “In the evening of September 11, we launched a campaign where users could collect cricket stickers & scratch cards to earn UPI cashback. This offer was applicable on recharges, utility payments, UPI money transfers, and adding money to wallet. On September 18 at 11:30 AM, we received an email from Google Play Support informing us that the Paytm Android app had been delisted.”


Paytm made it clear that it was the first time that Google was sending it a notification regarding its UPI cashback & scratch cards campaign. Contrary to accepted practice, they were not given any opportunity to respond to their concerns or put forth our views. "We maintain that our promotional campaign was within guidelines, and there was no violation. It was also not related to gambling in any manner whatsoever,” Paytm added its blog.


It further pointed out several instances of Google itself doling out millions in cashback to promote its payments app Google Pay. Paytm is India’s largest payments & financial services company, and thereby a direct competitor to Google Pay. 


At the beginning of this Cricket Season itself, Google Pay has started its TEZ SHOTS Campaign which clearly says, "Score Runs to earn assured rewards worth up to Rs 1. lakh." According to the steps of the game, a user can play as many times as they want. They earn vouchers that they can unlock at each milestone. Finally, they qualify for a lucky draw through which they get assured tickets up to Rs 1 lakh with any qualifying payment. For different scores starting from 50 to all the way to 1000 plus they also earn rewards and discounts on different services that they avail via the Google Pay app.


Paytm through the blog also clarified that contrary to the claims by Google, its previous communications were for Paytm First Games which were duly addressed & resolved. Confirming that it has been prompt to respond to all concerns of Google and have always complied with their directions, Paytm reiterated that its promotional campaign was within guidelines, and there was no violation. 


Addressing the questions around some alleged previous “policy violations” and communications from Google, Paytm said that the Google Play Support team had written to them on three occasions (on August 20th, August 28th and on September 1st) with some concerns on a separate matter of Paytm First Games’ promotion through the Paytm app. "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," it stated in the blog.


Paytm further added that Paytm First Games can conveniently 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. "We have been prompt and responsible in solving Google’s concerns and comply with their directions. Google’s recent action on the de-listing the Paytm app because of a UPI cashback campaign is unjustified. We reiterate that our cashback campaign was within guidelines, and there was no violation," the company said.


Google’s arbitrary step has rallied massive support for Paytm against its unfair business practices. Several industry insiders, experts called out Google’s malafide intention and said that as a country India should not beholden to such tech giants.

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