Indian govt pushes Google to remove 100 fradulent instant loan apps

To clamp down on the number of fraudulent loan apps that are available online, Google has removed about 100 instant loan apps from the Google Play Store.

These apps were involved in the alleged collection of personal data and its misuse and the same data was being used to issue threats, blackmail people and use of other coercive methods for recovery of loans, according to the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY).

The IT Ministry said that law enforcement had notified Google about the availability of these malicious apps that were possibly in violation of Google’s policies and regulatory framework. The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

Taking a firm stand against such apps, Google removed about 100 such apps since December 2020 till January 20, 2021.

Loan apps leeching off others

Ministry officials said that they had been receiving several public grievances against frauds and malpractices by a few of these instant loan apps available on Google’s app platform.

The American tech giant informed that it had reviewed hundreds of such applications in Inda and pulled them down as they were found violating Google’s policies.

Google has also informed developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations in the country. Only then will be allowed to exist in Google’s ecosystem.

“We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies,” said Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy.

RBI’s take

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that legitimate public lending activities can be undertaken by banks, NBFCs registered with RBI and other entities who are regulated by the state governments under appropriate statutory provisions such as Money Lending Acts.

“Members of the public were cautioned not to fall prey to such unscrupulous activities and were requested to verify the antecedents of the company/firm offering loans online or through mobile apps,” the RBI had said.

Google Play’s Developer Policy requires financial apps that offer personal loan to disclose information such as minimum and a maximum period of repayment, maximum annual percentage rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost.

In order to ensure that users are duped by such apps, only personal loan apps with full repayment required in greater than or equal to 60 days from the date the loan is an issue are permitted to remain on the platform as per Google’s policy.

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