Google said on Thursday it has pulled some personal loan apps from Play Store in India and was implementing stronger measures to prevent abuse following reports that said several firms were targeting vulnerable borrowers in the country and then going to extreme lengths to recover their money.
The Android-maker said users and government agencies in India recently flagged several personal loan apps and the company reviewed hundreds of them. The review found an identified number of apps violated Play Store’s safety policies and were immediately removed from the Store.
Google said it has asked the developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that their apps are in compliance 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,” the company said.
Users have identified several lending apps including 10MinuteLoan and Ex-Money in India in recent months that granted small ticket loans (typically in the range of $100 to $200) to people for short tenures without much verification to determine their eligibility and then charged steep processing fees.
To avoid such abuse, Google said Play Store will only allow personal apps that require customers to make their repayment in 60 days or longer.
When borrowers struggled to repay their debt in the short period, collection agents on behalf of some lending apps threatened to embarrass them in front of their friends, colleagues, and family, among other tactics. In November, local newspaper Indian Express reported that a 23-year-old man committed suicide after being bullied by a money lending app.
“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. Developers must also only use data for purposes that the user has consented to, and if they later want to use the data for other purposes, they must obtain user permission for the additional uses,” wrote Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, in a blog post.
More to follow…