Google has also asked developers of other identified apps to show that they comply with local laws and regulations and apps that fail to will be removed without further notice.

Google has removed 100s of isntant loan apps
Money Instant loans Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 14:53

Amid a crackdown on instant loan apps in India, Google has said that it has been assisting law enforcement agencies in their investigation of the issue. As part of this, Google says it has reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies. Those found to violate user safety policies were immediately removed from the Play Store, it said.

Google has also asked developers of the remaining apps that were identified to show to Google that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations and apps that fail to do so will be removed without further notice.

Digital lending platforms, especially those offering instant loans have come under the scanner after several reported cases of suicide where borrowers were unable to pay back money in time and faced harassment from these apps. Police investigation found that these apps were using harsh recovery methods where they even used the borrower’s data to contact their family and friends.

Google’s current policies against instant loan apps

Google only allows personal loan apps that have a full repayment tenure of over 60 days from the date the loan was issued.

Google also said that the Google Play Developer Policy requires financial services apps that offer personal loans to disclose key information such as the minimum and maximum periods of repayment, the maximum Annual Percentage Rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost. APR includes interest rate, fees and other costs for a year, or similar other rates calculated consistently with local law. Its policies also require apps to disclose the app’s privacy policy that explicitly states access, collection, use and sharing of personal and sensitive user data. The policy can be read here

To ensure user privacy, Google has asked developers to only request permissions that are necessary to implement current features or services. They should not use permissions that give access to user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented, or disallowed features or purposes.

“Developers must also only use data for purposes that the user has consented to, and if they later want to use the data for other purposes, they must obtain user permission for the additional uses,” Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy at Google wrote in the blog.

Google’s response comes a day after RBI constituted a Working Group to evaluate the digital lending sector and recommend ways to help regulate it better.

“Recent spurt and popularity of online lending platforms/mobile lending apps (‘digital lending’) has raised certain serious concerns which have wider systemic implications. Against this backdrop, a Working Group (WG) is being set up to study all aspects of digital lending activities in the regulated financial sector as well as by unregulated players so that an appropriate regulatory approach can be put in place,” RBI said in a statement on Wednesday.

Read(Part 1): Made in China: How the instant loan app racket boomed in India

(Part 2): The ‘instant loan’ swindlers’ list: Chinese owners, Indian proxies & ghost addresses

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