Saturday Nov 26 2022

Sigh of relief: Google Play services to continue in Pakistan

A representational image of Google Play logo. — Reuters/File
A representational image of Google Play logo. — Reuters/File

  • Government intervenes to address SBP payment issue.
  • IT minister writes to finance minister to take notice.
  • SBP directed to restore DCB to release payments.

ISLAMABAD: The Google Play services will not go down after December 1, 2022, the country’s IT ministry said, as the central bank has been asked to restore the mechanism through which such payments are transacted to the international companies.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) discontinued the direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism after which a payment of $34 million per annum through mobile companies to international service providers, including Google, Amazon, and Meta, got stuck.

Analysts said the move was aimed at restricting the dollar outflows.

The android users would continue to enjoy these services paid through mobile carrier billing, putting an end to the uncertainties surrounding the future of these services.

Earlier, it was reported that android users in Pakistan have been denied buying paid apps or using in-app paid services through mobile operator billing — a way for users to pay for apps using their mobile credits — because the SBP has blocked payment of $34 million to world companies.

Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoIIT), Aminul Haque, in a statement posted on the ministry’s Twitter handle, said he wrote to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to direct SBP to unfreeze the payments.

He said the decision was taken after across-the-board consultations with the stakeholders.

“A few days ago, a letter was written to the IT ministry by all telecom operators, expressing their fears that this issue was likely to surface sooner or later.”

The MoIIT, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and four cellular mobile operators (CMOs) unanimously wrote a joint letter to the SBP on Friday, making a request to reverse its decision of revoking the DCB mechanism for payment of dollar fee keeping in view the liquidity crunch being faced by the country.

Haque said that the telecom industry was already suffering and such decisions could make matters worse.

“The SBP decision to suspend payments will stop the paid Google application services in Pakistan, freezing payments to international organisations, casting doubts on the country’s reputation, the minister said.

He further said that the finance minister should take immediate notice of the matter and direct the State Bank to continue the payment.

Had the government not intervened, Pakistani users would be forced to download Google and other international apps for making payments through credit cards or debit cards only.

But the credit card facility is limited to a certain number of customers, so the majority of mobile users may be deprived of downloading apps from Google Play.