The working group will evaluate digital lending activities, and also identify risks posed by unregulated digital lending to the financial stability of regulated entities and consumers.

The working group will submit their report within 2 monthsImage For Representation
news Policy Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 17:42

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday constituted a Working Group to look into digital lending through mobile apps and online platforms in India. The WG has been given three months time to evaluate digital lending activities, and suggest policy and statutory changes if required. The move by the RBI comes after several instances of suicides were reported due to harassment by instant loan apps across the country.

“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.

The WG will evaluate digital lending activities, assess their penetration and standards of outsourced digital lending activities. The WG will also identify risks posed by unregulated digital lending to the financial stability of regulated entities and consumers.

RBI said in a statement that the WG is to suggest regulatory changes to promote orderly growth of the digital lending sector. The working group will also help define the role of various regulators and government agencies. Recommendations will also be made on if any powers of a regulator need to be expanded or a statutory perimeter needs to be adopted.

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

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

A Fair Practices Code for digital lending players, insourced or outsourced and measures for consumer protection will also be recommended by the working group. In addition, it will also recommend measures for robust data governance, data privacy and data security standards for deployment of digital lending services.

Police investigation into reported suicides revealed that loan recovery agents of several Instant loan apps used harsh loan recovery methods using data of the loan defaulter accessed from their phones. Several police complaints about harassment by recovery agents have been filed across Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka since December 2020. 

Read: ‘They called all my contacts’: Instant loan apps accused of harassing customers

Subsequent police raids on call centres revealed that several of the instant loan app available over mobile app stores were operated by Chinese nationals with proxy Indian directors. These apps when installed gained access to sensitive data on a loan applicant from their mobile phones.      

The working group constituted by RBI will consist of both internal and external members. The internal members include Jayant Kumar Dash, Executive Director, RBI (Chairman), Ajay Kumar Choudhary, Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Department of Supervision, RBI, P Vasudevan, Chief General Manager, Department of Payment and Settlement Systems, RBI, Manoranjan Mishra, Chief General Manager, Department of Regulation, RBI (Member Secretary)

The RBI has also named two external members, Vikram Mehta, Co-founder, Monexo Fintech and Rahul Sasi, Cyber Security Expert & Founder of CloudSEK.

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