Google takes down lending app in India for violating user policy

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The global technology giant, Google has removed personal lending apps aimed at consumers in India from the Play Store in an attempt to safeguard users, the company said in a blog post.

Google, in its post, stated it has reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India that were flagged by users and government agencies and those found to be violating its user safety policies were immediately removed from Play Store.

As per a recent investigation conducted by Reuters, it was found that at least 10 lending apps on the Play Store breached Google’s rules on loan repayment periods which was formulated aiming to protect the vulnerable borrowers. The study also revealed that several lending apps flouted central bank regulations.

Google has not yet published the number of apps that had been taken down. However, the tech giant has asked the developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations.

The Indian online lending industry got the attention of the authorities due to two suicides in the past month linked to alleged harassment by recovery agents of such apps. When nearly 50 prominent lending apps in the country were reviewed it was found all borrowers were needed to give permission to the app to access their phone contacts which will be used by recovery agents in case of any defaults or late payments.

Google has already warned developers to only request access permissions that are necessary to implement current features and services. “They should not use permissions that give access to the user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented, or disallowed features or purposes,” the company said in its post.

Last day, the central bank of the country formed a working group to suggest regulatory measures to promote orderly growth of digital lending amid rising incidents of harassment. The panel has been tasked with identifying risks created by unregulated digital lending to financial stability, regulated entities and consumers and is expected to submit the report within three months.