GOOGLE removed one of India’s biggest digital payment apps from its online store for breaching gambling rules on Friday(18), just a day before the start of the Indian Premier League(IPL).
Digital payments platform Paytm had recently launched a fantasy cricket tournament that involved cash bets and violated the Google Play Store’s policies, the Indian firm said in a statement.
IPL 2020 gets underway in the United Arab Emirates from Saturday(19). In the opener in Abu Dhabi, four-time champions Mumbai Indians will take on three-time winners Chennai Super Kings.
The IPL, the world’s wealthiest national league, has previously been plagued by controversies with corruption and match-fixing cases often taking centre-stage.
Betting is illegal in India but the countdown to the 53-day IPL starting Saturday has seen a profusion of online ads for fantasy sports sites, which are allowed in many parts of the country.
“Today afternoon, we received communication from Google that they are suspending our app because they believe this to be a violation of their Play Store policies on gambling,” the company said.
“The Paytm Android app has thus been unlisted from Google’s Play Store and is temporarily unavailable to users for new downloads or updates,” it added.
But Android users who downloaded the app earlier can still use it for transactions.
Earlier on Friday, Google in a statement said it would not permit any apps in its store that facilitate sports betting or lead “consumers to external websites that allowed them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes”.
However, it did not mention Paytm in the statement.
The IPL, which is being held in the United Arab Emirates behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, was hit by a spot-fixing scandal in 2013 which resulted in two teams being banned for two years.
have experienced a surge in demand in India in recent months, with
The usage of digital payments platforms doubled in 2020 from a year ago due to coronavirus restrictions, according to consultancy firm Local Circles.
India’s digital payments market is dominated by Google Pay, followed closely by PhonePe, with Paytm ranking a distant third.