Google has removed several personal loan apps from the Play Store for violating its user safety policies after recent incidents of harassment and extortion by unauthorized loan apps. According to Google, it has reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies.
The announcement is also a preemptive move to remind developers of instant loan apps to comply with applicable local laws and regulations. Google has assured concerned law enforcement agencies of its continued assistance in matters of fraudulent money lending apps.
However, Google hasn’t disclosed names of the personal loan apps that it pulled from the Play Store.
The latest crackdown by Google on unauthorized loan apps comes a day after the RBI constituted a ‘Working Group’ to create a regulatory framework for digital lending platforms. The digital lending space has seen much criticism lately due to multiple reports of harassment and usurious loan recovery methods by personal loan apps. Cases of defaulters committing suicide have underscored the severity of the issue.
To ensure transparency in the growing number of digital lending apps, Google has reiterated its Google Play Developer Policy which requires personal loan apps 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. Apps with less than a 60 day repayment period would not be allowed on the Play Store.
Google, which dominates India’s fast-growing app market, has asked developers to seek consumers’ consent over data necessary to implement current features or services. Further, the search giant has stipulated that developers must use the data only for purposes that the consumer has consented to.
“To protect user privacy, developers must 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,” said Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy on the Google India blog.