Misleading headlines about Google suspending paid apps in Pakistan

Only carrier-paid apps have been temporarily suspended by the tech giant

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Claim: Google has suspended the purchase of paid apps in Pakistan.

Fact: The tech giant has suspended the purchase of carrier-paid apps in Pakistan via mobile credit only. But the payment to purchase paid apps can be made via credit or debit cards.

Fact or Fiction?

On 3 December 2022, Daily Pakistan Global shared a tweet claiming that Google has suspended paid apps in Pakistan. 

The headline of the article reads, “Google suspends paid apps in Pakistan.”

Soch Fact Check found the headline to be misleading. Google has not suspended paid apps in Pakistan. Users can download paid apps on the Google Play Store through credit or debit card only during the suspension. They, however, won’t be able to make payments via the direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism, which involves payment using mobile balance. 

Some of the articles mention that the tech giant has suspended “carrier-paid apps” in Pakistan due to non-payment of outstanding dues days after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reportedly halted a major payment to Google.

On 26 November 2022, several media outlets reported that Google Play Store services would no longer be available to Pakistani users after 1 December following reports that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reportedly blocked  payment of $34 million to international service providers to limit dollar outflow. 

On 27 November, the SBP refuted reports saying that payments to Google were not blocked, terming all such claims ‘baseless and misleading’ via a statement.

In a major development, on 1 December, the IT ministry said that the payment would be made to Google as per schedule after a proposal was agreed between the Ministry of Finance and Minister of IT and Telecom Syed Aminul Haque with regards to an “effective mechanism and making payment against the Google App services.”

The IT ministry’s official Twitter account quoted Haque as saying, “SBP had been directed to delay the implementation of the Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) policy for one month.”

Haque also said that telecom operators were now being given a month’s time to “implement payment procedures and within a month, the Ministry of IT, Finance and State Bank would formulate a plan of action in mutual consultation in that regard”.

Soch Fact Check ascertained that the payment method currently available on Google Play Store is a credit or debit card, which means that DCB remains suspended. 

Virality:

Soch Fact Check searched Google with the keywords “Google suspends paid apps in Pakistan” and found that Daily Pakistan and Burj News carried the claim. 

It can also be found here on Twitter.

Conclusion: Google has not suspended paid apps in Pakistan. The ‘temporary suspension’ only applies to carrier-paid apps, which means users can not purchase apps via mobile credit but only through credit or debit cards.

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