Paytm takes on Google, unveils India's own Android Mini App Store

Paytm on Monday said it has launched its Android Mini App Store to support Indian developers, a move that will further intensify the tussle between the fintech major and tech giant, Google.

The development comes just weeks after Paytm's app was blocked from Google Play Store for a few hours for violating the latter's policy on sports betting activities.

Paytm is providing listing and distribution of these mini-apps within its app without any charges and for payments, developers will be able to give a choice of Paytm Wallet, Paytm Payments Bank, UPI, net-banking and Cards to their users, Paytm said in a statement on Monday.

More than 300 app-based service providers such as Decathalon, Ola, Park+, Rapido, Netmeds, 1MG, Domino's Pizza, FreshMenu, NoBroker have already joined the programme, it added.

"I am proud that we are today launching something that creates an opportunity for every Indian app developer. Paytm Mini App Store empowers our young Indian developers to leverage our reach and payments to build new innovative services," Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said.

He added that for Paytm users, it will be a seamless experience as they will not need separate downloads and they can use their preferred payment option.

Mini apps are a custom-built mobile website that gives users app-like experience without having to download them.

This would help users with limited data and phone memory.

On September 18, Google had blocked Paytm from its Play Store for a few hours for violating its policy on sports betting activities. The app was later restored after the fintech app removed the 'cashback' feature linked to a game on the app.

Paytm had alleged that it was "arm-twisted" by the search engine major to comply with its biased Play Store policies "that are meant to artificially create Google's market dominance".

In the days that followed, Google clarified its Play policies to say that apps that chose to sell digital content through its Play Store, would have to use Google Play billing system and pay a percentage of the in-app purchase as a fee.

Google faced ire from Indian developers with many saying the tech giant cannot force Indian app developers/owners to sell digital services by compulsorily using its billing system. There were also calls for a local app store to offer more choice to developers and consumers.

On Monday, Google - in a blogpost - said it had heard some additional questions from the developer community in India after posting its clarification to its Play Payments policy at the end of September, and was extending the time for developers in India to integrate with the Play billing system to March 31, 2022.

Paytm - which competes with Google Pay in the fintech space - said it has created the digital infrastructure to enable small developers and businesses to set up low-cost, quick-to-build mini-apps which can be built using HTML and javascript technologies.

The company provides Paytm wallet, Paytm Payments Bank account and UPI at zero charges and levies a 2 per cent charge for other instruments like credit cards, it added.

Paytm said this local India's app store aims to drive the Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission while keeping the digital consumer spends within India.

Paytm Mini App Store offers a dashboard to developers for analytics, payments collection along with various marketing tools to engage with the users.

This app store has been running in beta with select users and witnessed over 12 million visits in the month of September, the statement said.

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Free Press Journal