Google has announced that it will be pulling down a few personal loan apps from its Play Store after receiving several reports from users and government agencies in India. These apps were found to be in violation of Google’s developer code, and were harassing vulnerable borrowers for repayments.
There have been instances where borrowers have failed to repay to loan in time and collection agents working on behalf of such loan apps threatened to embarrass them in front of their friends, colleagues, and family, among other ill tactics. In one case, a borrower from Tamil Nadu who complained about the harassment he faced committed suicide. This has put a lot of pressure on Google to take action, and today’s announcement is just a response of that.
The company has already removed a lot of apps, and said that it will take similar action against a lot more, unless they demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations.
“Apps that fail to do so will be removed without further notice. In addition, we will continue to assist the law enforcement agencies in their investigation of this issue,” Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy said in a blogpost.
Google did not disclose any names, but eagle eyed users have identified several lending apps including 10MinuteLoan and Ex-Money. These apps granted small ticket loans (typically in the range of $100 to $200) to people for short tenures and then charged steep processing fees.
The post also stated that Google requires developers to disclose key information to borrowers, such as the minimum and maximum periods of repayment, the maximum Annual Percentage Rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost when they consent to the Google Play Developer Policy.
In November 2019, Google had issued a new developer policy, which stated that personal loan apps which require repayment in full within 60 days from the date of issuance would not be allowed on the Play Store. The company had also cracked down on several digital lending applications during the same month, removing them from its app store completely.
Apps like OkCash, Go Cash, Flip Cash, ECash and SnapIt Loan were taken down from the Play Store just a few days after the policy change. These rogue apps operated on the platform for over three months and their names resembled legit companies which confused users.