Pakistan averts possible Google Play Services suspension

SBP had suspended payments to international service providers, including Google

Thursday, December 01, 2022
A man points a finger to the Google Play app logo on his Huawei smartphone in this illustration picture May 20, 2019. — Reuters

Pakistan Thursday averted the suspension of services of paid Google Play apps after the Ministry of Finance — IT Minister Aminul-Haque's advice — approved to release of blocked payments to international service providers, including Google.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) suspended payment of $34 million to international service providers, which could have rendered inbound mobile users unable to download paid Google Play Store services using their mobile balance as a source of payment from December 1, 2022, onwards.

A $34 million payment to international service providers like Google, Amazon, and Meta was suspended after the SBP discontinued the direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism.

DCB is an online mobile payment system which enables users to make purchases by charging payments to their mobile phone carrier bill.

Telecommunication companies allow customers to purchase these products through airtime and send funds abroad as fees for acquiring IT-related services.

However, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Finance Tariq Bajwa contacted Haque and shared views regarding the suspended payments.

Later, the IT minister confirmed that the Finance Ministry agreed to release the payments as per schedule.

He assured that "paid Google Play apps will not be suspended in Pakistan," stating that the Finance Ministry has directed the SBP to delay the implementation of the policy — under which the payments were suspended — for a month.

He said that telecom operators have a month to implement the payment mechanism.

The IT ministry had written to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar seeking a time frame for the said implementation on the telecom operators' request for the ministry's assistance, the IT minister said. Haque thanked Dar and Bajwa for a timely decision.