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Threat of possible suspension of Google Play services in Pakistan averted

Payments can be made as per schedule, paid Google Play apps won't be suspended, says IT minister

By Mehtab Haider
December 01, 2022
The picture shows Google Play Store logo. — AFP
The picture shows Google Play Store logo. — AFP

The Ministry of Finance has agreed to release blocked payments to international service providers like Google on Federal Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haque's advice, which will avoid the suspension of services of paid Google Play apps.

A payment of $34 million to international service providers was suspended by the State Bank of Pakistan, due to which mobile users in the country would not have been able to download paid Google Play Store services using their mobile balance as a source of payment from December 1, 2022 onwards.

The direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism was discontinued by the central bank after which a payment of $34 million on an annual basis through mobile companies to international service providers, including Google, Amazon and Meta, got stuck.

DCB is generally an online mobile payment method, which allows users to make purchases by charging payments to their mobile phone carrier bill. Telcos were allowing their customers to purchase these products through airtime and then remit funds abroad reflecting such transactions as payments for the acquisition of 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 has agreed to release the payments and said that it will be done as per schedule.

"Paid Google Play apps will not be suspended in Pakistan," he assured while sharing that the SBP has been directed to delay the implementation of the policy — under which the payments had been suspended — for a month.

He said that the telecom operators have been given a month's time to implement the payment mechanism.

Haque further stated that the IT and finance ministries will form a strategy through consultations with the central bank in the meantime.

The minister said that 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.

He thanked Dar and Bajwa for a timely decision.