Google Pulls Errant Personal Loan Apps From Play Store
The icon for Google LLC’s Play Store application is displayed on a smartphone. (Photographer:Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

Google Pulls Errant Personal Loan Apps From Play Store

Google Inc. reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps on its Play store in India and removed the ones that didn't meet its guidelines after being flagged by users and government agencies.

The review follows reports of unscrupulous digital lending apps available for download on Play store. These apps would offer short-term loans at very high rates. Some of them also stored private information of a customer to use it against them, if they fail to recover dues.

“The apps that were found to violate our user safety policies were immediately removed from the store, and we have asked the developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations. Apps that fail to do so will be removed without further notice,” Suzanne Frey, vice president, product, android security and privacy at Google, said in a statement.

Also read: Aggressive Recovery Practices Make A Comeback As Loan Defaults Begin

Before an application goes live on Google’s Play, developers have to agree with Google’s developer distribution agreement to adhere to applicable rules and laws, including generally accepted practices and guidelines.

Besides, the store requires financial services apps that offer personal loans to disclose key information such as minimum and maximum periods of repayment, maximum annual percentage rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost.

Google has also asked developers to seek customer permission for data necessary to implement current features or services. Developers must only use data for purposes that a user has consented to and must obtain the permission again if they later want to use the data for additional purposes, its statement said.

Last month, the Hyderabad police arrested people related to money-lending apps involved in luring borrowers into a debt trap by offering short-term credit at high rates. The recovery practices employed by these applications resulted in suicide of a borrower, prompting criminal action.

Since June. the RBI has called for caution on various aspects of digital lending. In June, it reiterated that all digital lenders must abide by the fair practices code. In December, it asked customers to ensure that apps they are borrowing from are legitimate. The regulator has now set up an internal working group to study the digital lending ecosystem.

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