Hey @GoogleIndia @GooglePlay you removed @MobiKwik app from play store because we had a link to Aarogya Setu app. We were asked to do this by regulators ( @RBI ) and understand it’s in public health interest. You have too much power ! Cc @CCI_India @amitabhk87 @PMOIndia @rsprasad pic.twitter.com/ftv5KIZCAy— Bipin Preet Singh (@BipinSingh) May 28, 2020
Homegrown mobile wallet app MobiKwik found itself in a rather unexpected and unpleasant situation.
The app got an alert from Google Play Store on Thursday afternoon stating that it is not compliant with Google Play policies and due to this, MobiKwik has been removed from the Play Store.
Bipin Preet Singh, Founder CEO, MobiKwik tweeted about this on May 28.
What went wrong?
In an e-mail sent to Mobikwik’s developers, Google Play Support said the app had violated Google Play's ‘Deceptive Ads policy’, by "clearly not labelling ads".
This was a reference to a link that the MobiKwik app had to the Aarogya Setu app.
The company had added the link after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on April 15 had reached out to the financial ecosystem requesting it to display the banner on their website to promote downloads for the Aarogya Setu App.
The email sent out also stated, "The URL link mentioned in the banner may kindly be made as hyperlink and clickable for download."
Based on the request, several players added a download-able link of Aarogya Setu App on their websites and apps. It appears that Google considered the addition of this link without it being labelled an ad as a violation.
On May 20, the developers at MobiKwik first received a notification of a possible 'Violation of Deceptive Ads policy' on Google Play Store policy.
MobiKwik decided to remove Aarogya Setu’s download link from its app, and has now made its way back to the Play Store.
Google’s 2016 'Ads' Label Policy
Back in January 2016, Google told developers that users will start to see the "Ads" label on apps that contain advertising.
After this move, developers are now required to sign in to the Play Developer Console and declare whether their apps contain ads, such as ads delivered through third-party ad networks, display ads, native ads, and/or banner ads.
However, linking Aarogya Setu App‘s banner or nudging users to download cannot entirely get categorised as an advertisement. And if it did come under the category of an ‘ad’, how will this affect other players who have made similar tweaks to their platforms?
To get clarity on this matter CNBC-TV18 reached out to Google India seeking more details on this policy. Google has not shared an official statement on this matter yet.