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Fact check: Google hasn’t suspended Play Store in Pakistan, but users can’t use mobile balance to pay for apps


Mobile phone users can continue to download apps from the Google Play store, but their phone balances have been cut after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reportedly suspended $34 million in payments to international service providers such as Google. can no longer be used to pay for apps. A carrier billing (DCB) service provided by a telephone company.

Local media have been pushing headlines that Google will suspend all Play Store services on December 1, 2022 due to SBP measures, but this is not entirely true. Users can download the app, but cannot pay with anything other than a debit or credit card.

Another option for such payment is carrier billing (DCB). This includes payments using your mobile balance. DCB exists because there is no international digital payment method that can be used to pay for various apps.

By linking carrier billing to the Google Play store, freelancers will also be able to pay for some of the tools and apps that help them get their job done, said Telenor’s senior information and communications technology regulatory expert. , former chief executive and strategy officer Aslam Hayat told Profit.

These apps do not have a physical presence in Pakistan, so payment by other means such as vouchers or cash is not possible. User can pay using Mastercard or Visa credit/debit card or his DCB. Not all mobile phone customers have credit or debit cards, so DCB is a convenient service for them.

With direct carrier billing, the mobile phone customer pays for the app through a balance with their respective carrier, and the carrier charges the app, either directly or through an intermediary, after a mutually agreed number of days. Send the amount.

It is this aggregated payment from telcos to international service providers like Google that SBP reportedly does not currently allow for remittances.

Aslam said the move to block payments under the DCB will not only affect telco data usage in the case of games and entertainment apps, but also negatively affect freelancers.

An estimated $60 million is paid annually by carriers using DCB and other digital services, according to officials at one of the major carriers.

However, official sources say the telco’s approval for direct billing to carriers was never revoked, and they were asked to reclassify such payments. The payments will be made under certain foreign exchange rules and through designated banks, sources told Profit.

Activities for which payments can be made were identified in the Forex Manual. The telco has started paying for apps under his DCB, and has also started paying for broader IT service categories, sources said. At that time, SBP notified the bank to stop paying for the app under DCB and re-designate it into the appropriate category.

Payments for broader IT services are made under various rules. Payments for entertainment apps and gaming apps are made under different rules. The payments were never reversed, they were only asked to be redesignated, the sources said.

However, it should be noted that the SBP uses regulatory nuances to block the outflow of dollars from the country. When luxury goods were banned, LCs on importing raw materials for the mobile phone manufacturing industry were not blocked, but the SBP began delaying approval to open LCs.




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