By Sankalp Phartiyal
NEW DELHI, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Google on Friday removed the payments app Paytm from its Android store, citing violations of its gambling policy by the Indian fintech unicorn, which is backed by SoftBank 9434.T, Alibaba BABA.N and Berkshire Hathaway BRKa.N among others.
"We don't allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting," the U.S. tech company said in a blog post.
"This includes if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes," said Alphabet Inc's GOOGL.O Google, in the blog post. "It is a violation of our policies."
The blog post did not name Paytm, but Google separately confirmed the removal for policy violations.
A Paytm spokesman also confirmed that Google had removed its app.
Launched a decade ago as a platform for mobile recharging, Paytm grew quickly after ride-hailing firm Uber UBER.N listed it as a quick payment option. Its use swelled further in 2016 when India banned certain high-value currency notes, causing an immense shortage of currency in the economy for months.
It currently competes with global players such Google Pay and Walmart's PhonePe in India's digital payments market which is set to more than double in value to $135 billion by 2023 from 2019, according to PwC and Indian lobby group ASSOCHAM.
The company had not breached Google policies but was running an offer that gave its users stickers, for payments and money transfers, which could then be used to redeem cashbacks - a move Google deemed as gambling, the Paytm spokesman told Reuters.
Paytm has since removed the promotion from its app, he added.
Google did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on how Paytm's cashback offer violated its policies.
Paytm said on Twitter it was working with Google to restore the Andriod app and assured users that their money was safe.
(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Kirsten Donovan)
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