"Not okay Google! You are wrong... You can't block me... I am India's biggest and fastest financial service provider... I revolutionized QR codes in India... I brought the Kirana shop owners who until a few years ago were scratching their heads... I rode that cashless wave in a demonetized India... Try doing whatever you wish to, you can't stop me..."
Only if an app could speak, one could expect nothing short of that hypothetical conversation between India's biggest, fastest, nimble, fiercest financial services app - Paytm, and, the harsh principal - Google. The play store operator, brandishing a wooden scale, went on to discipline the mischievious boy of the hostel (Play Store). Google managed blocking Paytm for a few hours citing UPI cashback and scratch cards (Paytm's admission).
And guess what? A few days later, Paytm, like the mischievious kid from the dorm, repeated the mistake it was punished initially for. This time, the mistake seems intentional, given an elaborate press statement.
On Monday, Paytm got a new offering - Paytm cricket league with elaborate scratch card and a UPI cashback system. Users can collect stickers of favourite cricket stars while paying digitally for mobile bills, recharges, groceries or even money transfers.
On completion of a transaction, users can redeem cashbacks of up to Rs 1,000, says Paytm. On completion of a milestone, users are assured of a scratch card with an "assured" cashback.
"Every sticker collected by the user is automatically added to the cricket album. There are three different milestones to be achieved for getting cashback -- 11 unique cricket players, 11 unique bowlers or 11 unique batsmen," adds the release.
A Paytm spokesperson is quoted as saying, "We are excited to bring Paytm Cricket League back on our app to reward users with UPI cashback on reaching various milestones, accomplished by collecting player stickers."
Here's where the catch begins. Paytm's blockage for a few hours was owing to UPI cashback and scratch cards, according to its blog.
Paytm called the blockage as "arm-twisting" despite complying with government rules and regulations. It even went on to say that Google was operating "biased play store policies that are meant to artificially create Google's market dominance."
Is that a cue for the lady to pass on the message to Sundar? Maybe, it is. After all, US competition and trust committees want tech majors like Apple, Google and Facebook to be fair in their treatment of entities like Paytm. There have been panels that have grilled Zuckerberg just to ensure they weeded out monopolistic practices.
"We maintain that our promotional campaign was within guidelines and there was no violation. We believe that such arbitrary actions and accusatory labelling go against the laws of our country and acceptable norms of fair competition by arbitrarily depriving our users of innovative services," the Paytm spokesperson said.
The duel is only interesting given it teaches a lesson or two to Google. Will the harsh principal dump the scale and give in to the rebel? Will the rebel get to relish the cricketing fervour?
Maybe Google may want to do a little back-off this time, given Paytm's clout. But if it does act like the harsh principal, expect the Android wars to get more spicy and sizzling.