Design of Paytm’s Mini App Store restricts developers from offering a full suite of services, say experts
Paytm said it will not charge a commission for payments made via Paytm and UPI. It will, however, charge 2% for debit and credit card payments
Paytm’s new app store may not pose an immediate challenge to Google Play Store, experts said, since its design restricts developers from offering a full suite of services. For instance, it does not allow “mini apps" to access all the functions on a user’s phone, such as camera and storage, limiting the number of features the apps can have.
Besides, just like Google Play, Paytm’s Mini App Store is also a walled garden — a controlled ecosystem tailored to suit the preferences of its creator. For instance, a publisher cannot display a direct referral link to Flipkart or Amazon, Paytm’s e-commerce competitors.
“If you want to sell something there, you have to do it through Paytm," said an app developer, requesting anonymity. “This is literally the same boundary put by Google with its Play Billing, that the tech giant uses to take 30% off purchases from developers."
Paytm said it will not charge a commission for payments made via Paytm and UPI. It will, however, charge 2% for debit and credit card payments. An analyst, also seeking anonymity, said nothing stops Paytm from changing the rules later.
Furthermore, they said Paytm’s Mini App Store is the same as rival PhonePe’s ‘Switch’, which offers multiple services.
PhonePe claims Switch has been live since 2018 and has over 220 partners, and millions of users. Paytm said it has 300 partners on the Mini App Store right now, and 400 more have signed up.
Like PhonePe, Paytm also offers companies on its platform to pay additional amounts for discovery. It said while organic discovery is free and anyone can access it on the platform, they can pay to place ads on Paytm. This makes the Mini App Store an even more powerful revenue stream for Paytm.
This is not the first time that Paytm has tried to build a platform. It had tried the same around two years ago, in the initial days of Paytm First Games. A Bengaluru-based game developer, who was part of these efforts back then, said Paytm had approached it to make HTML-based games as part of Paytm First Games’ offerings.
“They wanted to put a bunch of content on their app. But the problem was in trying to monetize that content," he said. “It’s like you’re running a rival app store as an app within the Play Store, which has been problematic."
According to a person close to the company, while Paytm is using the ruckus around Google’s policies to market its Mini App Store, this is actually “standard operating procedure" for the company. “This was never a wallet story, it was always a platform story," he added. “You can’t make a platform overnight. The centralization of a community on a common platform is the end goal. You get there step by step."
Considering that Paytm has 150 million monthly active users, the time is right to market its own platform.
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