Google, the internet search giant that owns video-sharing site YouTube and the Android mobile operating system, has a fraught relationship with bitcoin and crypto.
Bitcoin services, websites, and apps have regularly provoked Google’s ire in recent years, whether intentionally or not, causing some to cry censorship.
In its latest move against bitcoin-related products and services, Google suddenly removed bitcoin rewards game Bitcoin Blast from the Google Play app store, claiming it used “deceptive practices.”
Bitcoin Blast was made available on the Apple App Store on January 24, 2020 only to be removed less than a week later, with an Apple representative pointing to specific policies the app had violated and welcoming it back if it can be brought up to code.
“We were not removed for being involved with cryptocurrency,” Daniel Rice, co-founder, and chief technology officer at Bling, wrote in a Medium post on Monday, February 3rd explaining why Apple chose to boot Bitcoin Blast from the platform, adding the team will try to make the app available on iOS in the future but “it’s also possible that Bitcoin Blast will never return to an Apple platform.”
Last month, the developers of Bitcoin Blast, a match-three puzzle game that rewards users with bitcoin-redeemable loyalty points and boasts a 4.5 rating from some 20,000 ratings and 13,000 reviews, complained Google had suspended their app without giving them a clear reason why.
The app has now been reinstated but only after its developers, Bling, made a public plea for help, echoing a similar situation late last year when Google’s YouTube banned many of the most popular bitcoin-related creators on the platform only to, mostly, reverse the decision in the wake of the subsequent backlash.
Shortly after the YouTube crackdown, Google suspended the popular MetaMask crypto wallet and mobile browser app backed by ethereum incubator ConsenSys from the Play Store, only to eventually reinstate it.
The Bitcoin Blast ban caused Bling chief executive Amy Wan to question her company’s future relationship with Google and she warned other bitcoin and crypto businesses to avoid doing all their business on Google’s platforms.
“Google’s suspension cited their ‘deceptive behavior’ policy … but did not state exactly what behavior Google thought was deceptive,” Wan wrote in an opinion piece published on a crypto industry trade site.
“In their last reply, Google stated that they were ‘not able to provide any more information or a better answer to your question,'” Wan said, adding Google eventually allowed Bling to resubmit the app to the Play Store even though she still isn’t sure what Google thought was deceptive about the app in the first place.
Google has not responded to a request for comment.
Some in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry have previously threatened to boycott Google over its treatment of bitcoin-related news, services and products, while others have called for an alternative to the internet giant.
Meanwhile, Google, along with the likes of social media giant Facebook, has been increasingly looking to financial services to bolster advertisement revenue in recent years, with public opinion moving against ad-funded business models.
In November, Google, in partnership with U.S. banking giant Citigroup, said it’s planning to launch its own fully-fledged “smart checking” bank accounts via Google Pay–piling pressure on bitcoin developers to improve user experience and adoption or face redundancy.
The bitcoin price has climbed over the last 12-months, largely due to interest in bitcoin and crypto from the world’s biggest technology companies–with others, including the likes of iPhone-maker Apple and online retailer Amazon, branching out into traditional financial services.
Google is keen to protect its users from such practices, but its twitchy trigger finger and the speed at which the ban hammer falls is, understandably, making people nervous.