Berkshire Hathaway-Backed Paytm Pulled From Google’s Play Store Over Gambling Policy Violation

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Google has pulled Berkshire Hathaway-backed Paytm from its Play Store, claiming the company has violated its gambling policies. Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that enable sports betting in India.

Over the past decade, Paytm has become India’s leading digital payments platform in country where digital payments are projected to grow five-fold by 2023.

Suzanne Frey, Google’s Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, said in a blog post that it doesn’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting.

“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, it is a violation of our policies,” said Frey in the blog post.

“We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance. And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently,” Frey said.

In 2018, Berkshire Hathaway invested $356 million for a 3-4% stake in One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of Indian digital payments company Paytm. The investment was made by Berkshire Hathaway portfolio manager Todd Combs.

“I have been impressed by Paytm and am excited about being a part of its growth story, as it looks to transform payments and financial services in India,” Combs said at the time of the investment.

Combs sits on the eight-member board of the company, which at the time of the investment included Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Joseph Tsai, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co managing partner Pallavi Shroff, Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing, and Goldman Sachs Asia chairman Mark Schwartz.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.