A week post Google’s temporary ban, Paytm brings back IPL-led cashback scheme

Bengaluru: A week after being temporarily banned from the Google Play store, payments firm Paytm in a blog post on Monday said it has brought back its Indian Premier League (IPL)-led cashback scheme.

Paytm had earlier alleged that the cashback scheme was the reason for it being dropped from the Android platform.

“While we remain firm in our stance on the action taken by Google, we have made a few changes to our promotions so that our cricket celebrations with you continue uninterrupted. The essence of ‘Paytm Cricket League’ remains the same — you get surprise Cricket Player Stickers on each transaction, and earn cashback on collecting them!,” Paytm said in the blog post.

On 18 September, Google India temporarily removed the Paytm app from the Android Play Store for several hours, claiming the latter had violated its guidelines on gambling for app developers. The Paytm app was restored after the company complied with the tech giant’s rules on the matter.

According to two people aware of the issue, Google India was objecting to the integration of real-money gaming apps or websites into Paytm’s main app.

Paytm, however said that what Google really alleged to be ‘gambling’ or ‘real money gaming’ was rather its two new cashback schemes which allowed users to earn scratch cards on its platform during IPL.

Along with its main app, Paytm’s fantasy sports app, Paytm First Games was also removed from the Android Play Store, the same day.

Now, with a few tweaks, Paytm has brought back this UPI-led cashback scheme to its app.

“Our users can be assured that Paytm has never been involved in anything that can be considered betting or gambling. We believe that such arbitrary actions and accusatory labelling go against the laws of our country and acceptable norms of fair competition by arbitrarily depriving our users of innovative services,” Paytm said on Monday.

Through its ‘Paytm Cricket League’ cashback, Paytm claims that its users can earn ‘Paytm Cricket player stickers’, and add them to their album on the Paytm app. On completing player sticker related milestones, Paytm users will be eligible to get cashback up to 1000, the payments company explained on its blog.

In a blog post last week, Paytm alleged its temporary ban from the Play store to be ‘arm-twisting’ tactics by the global search major. It also said that Google didn’t give it an opportunity to explain its new cashback sticker feature.

“This (removing Indian apps temporarily from the Play Store) 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,” the Noida-based company said last week.

Following the blog post by Paytm, Google clarified that cashbacks and stickers do not violate its policies, but gambling platforms do.

“Offering cashbacks and vouchers alone do not constitute a violation of our Google Play gambling policies […] We enforce our policies very thoughtfully to provide a safe and secure experience for consumers, while also giving developers the platform and tools they need to build sustainable businesses. In the case of repeated policy violations, we may take serious action, which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts,” a Google spokesperson said last week.

Last week, Mint also reported that the altercation between technology giant Google and fintech major Paytm has brought the global debate around app store monopolies to India. With Paytm’s temporary ban, several founders and venture capitalists (VCs) from the country’s startup ecosystem decided to speak up against the power Google wields over apps on its platform.

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