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PayPal has opened the virtual polls at X.com, taking votes on the new-age payment applications vying for the $50,000 top prize in its inaugural Developer Challenge.

The competition received some extra spice yesterday, with one developer accusing PayPal of playing loose with the contest rules, but Naveed Anwar, head of the PayPal Developer Network, sees this as nothing more than a good thing.

"I'm quite astonished that this is the first time we're doing this and we've only had one developer complain," Anwar tells The Reg.

In November, the eBay-owned outfit officially unveiled a new development platform it calls PayPal X, a set of APIs that lets third-party applications tap PayPal's core payment processing system. And in an effort to stir up some added interest in the platform, the company launched its Developer Challenge, a contest offering $75,000 in prize money and $75,000 in waived fees to devs interested putting the new APIs to particularly creative use.

The original deadline for submitting preliminary apps to PayPal for inclusion in the contest was January 17. But after this date had come and gone, the company pushed the deadline back two weeks to January 31, citing an expected level of developer interest. "This was based on an overwhelming response from the community," Anwar says.

In pushing this deadline back, the company also moved the deadline for submitting finalized apps and short videos describing and promoting them. This, in turn, meant a delay in opening up a list of apps for voting.

Voting was finally set to begin on Monday, and a day later, one of the entrants - Funky Android - claimed that PayPal had approved apps that had not met previous deadlines and that the company had continued to expand the voting ballot after voting was set to begin.

"We were getting pretty frustrated and annoyed that PayPal seemed to be simply ignoring their own rules and giving other developers extra time and tips," wrote Al Suttons of Funky Android, which submitted an app to contest called PortaPayments. "The only reason for this we could think of was that PayPal wanted to increase the number of entrants, and the only way they could do this was to help developers who would have been excluded from the competition if they had enforced the rules."

A PayPal spokeswoman acknowledges the company was still updating the list of entries earlier this week, but she calls this "just part of the process."

"It's important to remember that when you run a contest, not everything runs perfectly," she tells us. "There is a certain amount of processing time we build into the contest, and sometimes, we need more time. Applications appeared later because we needed more time to process them."

She says that the company did not accept brand new applicants after the original deadline for app applications: December 16.

In any event, voting is now open. If you sign up for a PayPal account, you too can view the list of 50 odd entries and place a vote of your own. Voting closes on March 5. Winners will be announced at the DEMO conference in Palm Springs on March 22. ®

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