A sign advertising the mobile-phone payment system Paytm at a roadside stall in Mumbai. Photo: AFP

Digital payment company Paytm’s main app and its fantasy sports app Paytm First Games were removed from the Google Play Store for a few hours on Friday, for violating of Google’s policies on sports betting. They were reinstated after the Indian company took some remedial measures. Early Friday, these apps were not available for downloads and updates, but existing users did not face any problems.

The Android-maker had reportedly taken exception to Paytm’s launch of ‘Paytm Cricket League’ in view of the forthcoming Indian Premier League – a popular cricket tournament that kicks off on September 19. The online game allows users to get player stickers after each transaction, which can then be used to redeem cash back.

Paytm later said it has temporarily removed the cashback component in an effort to meet the Play Store policy requirements. It also assured its users that their balances and linked accounts were “100% safe.’ Paytm’s other applications – Paytm for Business, Paytm Mall, Paytm Money – faced no disruption on the Play Store. Meanwhile, all of Paytm’s apps were available on the Apple Store.

Earlier in a blog post Google said Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. “If an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prices, it is a violation of our policies,” it added.

Set up in 2010, Paytm, which has a value of US$16 billion as of June this year, is the most valuable startup, and its investors include Softbank, Ant Financial, AGH Holdings, SAIF Partners, Berkshire Hathaway, T Rowe Price and Discovery Capital.

A recent report by RedSeer Consulting stated that Paytm enjoys a 50% share in the payments to merchants segment and the platform has emerged as the most integrated payments provider in the fintech space in the country. It has a strong presence in small towns, with over 16 million merchants on its platform, the report added.

However, Google Pay is the leading player in the Unified Payments Interface platform, followed closely by Walmart-owned PhonePe, while Paytm is a distant third. The combined market share of the two leading players is around 80%. Unified Payments Interface is a state-run financial payments platform developed by the National Payments Corporation of India. The platform started off with nine banks as members and currently has over 140 member banks.

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