Alphabet Inc’s Google has removed some Indian consumer loan apps from the Play Store in an attempt to protect users, he said in a blog post on Thursday.
“We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan applications in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies,” said Suzanne Frey, vice president of products, Android security and privacy at the message.
A recent Reuters investigation found that at least 10 loan apps on the Play Store were in violation of Google’s loan repayment terms aimed at protecting vulnerable borrowers. He also found that a number of loan applications also violated central bank regulations designed to protect borrowers.
Google did not specify the number of apps that had been removed.
Google has contacted companies and asked them to clarify if they are following the rules and regulations, otherwise an app could be removed from the Play Store.
“We ask that you confirm within five days of this letter whether you hold any valid existing approvals or licenses from the Reserve Bank of India to act as an NBFC (Non-Banking Financial Company) or if you are registered under any applicable national law to offer such services or offer services on your application as a designated agent of an NBFC / Registered Bank, ”said the email, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
“If we do not receive this confirmation from you within 5 days of this email, your app may be removed from Google Play.”
The online lending industry has come to the attention of authorities after at least two suicides in the past month, linked to alleged harassment by recovery agents of these apps.
Reuters review of 50 popular loan applications available also found that almost all borrowers were required to give them permission to access their phone contacts which users claim are used by recovery agents in the event default or late payment.
Google said developers should only access permissions necessary to implement current features and services.
“They should not use permissions that give access to user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented or unauthorized functionality or purposes,” Google said in its post.
He said he would ensure apps comply with local laws and regulations. “Apps that don’t will be removed without further notice,” he said.
On Wednesday, the central bank formed a task force to review digital lending practices. The committee has been tasked with identifying the risks posed by unregulated digital lending to financial stability, regulated entities and consumers and is expected to submit the report within three months.