Money & Banking

Google versus Paytm: Fintech experts call for code of conduct

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on September 22, 2020

Amid the ongoing battle between Google and Paytm over the latter’s temporary delisting from PlayStore, many home-grown fintech players believe the search engine giant tends to exercise monopoly over the market.

Regulatory body

While many of the larger players that BusinessLine reached out to declined to comment on the issue, others called for a regulatory body to look into such issues.

“Google has over 400 million users and holds 90 per cent share through its Android Operating system in the smartphone market. This makes it extremely convenient for them to exercise monopoly over the market,” said Pranjal Kamra, CEO, Finology.

“Under such circumstances it is important that we have a regulatory body to look over such activities and make sure that those in the position of monopoly cannot abuse their power,” Kamra further said.

Anil Pinapala, CEO and Founder, Vivifi, noted that in a country that is dominated by Android phones, Google as the owner of the Android platform and Play Store, has a near monopoly on the market.

“Google in India has also grown into a dominant fintech payments player with its GPay App becoming the most widely-used UPI payments app. So, in such a scenario, it is always a cause of concern as the owner of the Play Store platform when they institute rules and regulations that could constrict their competition, or in some cases eliminate them from the Playstore eco-system altogether like Paytm just experienced,” he noted.

Own rules and policies

According to Pinapala, Google creates its own rules and policy structures, which seem to challenge the authority of the regulatory bodies. For instance, Google has promulgated a certain set of rules and regulations for fintech lending apps, which would be acceptable to regulate apps of unlicensed entities. But they apply the same yardstick for even an RBI-registered NBFC, he said, adding that it should be sufficient to comply with the comprehensive RBI regulations as a registered licence holder.

 

Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and CEO, BharatPe, said that removing the app is an extreme step and should be avoided, especially with respect to fintech apps that have been around for years and have millions of downloads. “I believe businesses have to be run on context in addition to rules. I am sure Paytm is a conscientious well-meaning business, which would have in any case complied with technicalities of being listed on Google Play Store. Customer’s trust is paramount in financial services and such events cause damage to that. One has to be extra conscious when you enjoy a dominant position as well as conflicting position,” he noted.

Experts also pointed out that such issues are playing out globally, too, and noted a pitched legal battle was also on between Epic Games and Apple after the former’s Fortnite game was removed from the App Store.

“The issue has to be looked holistically. There has to be some code of conduct or regulations for platform owners such as Google and Apple,” noted another player, who did not wish to be named.

 

Paytm and Google have been at loggerheads since September 18 when Paytm was ousted from the Play Store for a few hours for what Google termed as “repeated policy violations”.

Paytm said it was forced to remove the UPI cashback and scratch cards campaign to comply with Google’s mandate and get re-listed on the Android Play Store. It also said 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 and said it was following all rules and regulations of the government.

Published on September 22, 2020

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