Even though it has removed over 2,000 loan apps from the India Play Store due to several infractions, Google has not yet taken a strict stance against apps in this category, unlike with real money fantasy gaming apps, according to a top executive. This is because the company sees “real user value” in the loan apps category.
The business claimed that since January of this year, it has deleted more than 2,000 loan applications from the India Play Store due to terms of service violations, false information, and dubious offline behavior.
Saikat Mitra, head of Google’s Trust and Safety division for APAC, said that typically, apps go through an automated technical scan and content policy review in response to questions posed by The Indian Express about how such loan apps manage to get on board to Google’s Play Store despite the verification checks — involving both automated and human interventions — employed by the company.
“In the event of loan applications, a number of checks are made, including the interest rate that is provided. We recently changed our policy such that loan applications must now include the underwriter to which they are linked. In some circumstances, we even have a person reviewing it. But we must recognize that the issue with loan apps is what we refer to as “offline bad,” meaning that all the bad stuff takes place outside the app, the executive said. He added that Google collaborates “very closely” with law enforcement organizations to gather input and take action on problematic loan apps.
Mitra said that the issue with lending apps may have “peaked” and that Google is working on an improved policy that may emphasize cross-verification of underwriters listed by loan app developers.
When asked why the company has not taken a tough stance against lending applications, Mitra responded that the latter offer “genuine customer value.” “The short answer is yes, there is genuine customer benefit in these lending applications. Of course, some loan applications have extremely annoying things happen to them, but for every poor loan application, there are probably dozens or even hundreds of solid loan applications that are approved by an RBI-licensed bank or NBFC, the speaker noted.
Questionable loan applications have proliferated significantly over the past two years, both online and on Google’s Play Store. These apps focus on sleazy loan recovery and acquiring access to a person’s contact list with threats of sending them defamatory messages. In such situations, people are sometimes required to repay far more than they borrowed in the first place, and harassment and suicide cases are frequently documented.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), regional police, and other authorities are all aware of the threat. According to research conducted by an RBI Working Group and published in November 2021, up to 600 of the 1,100 loan applications now offered to Indian Android consumers across 80 app shops are illicit. And since a person using a loan app cannot determine whether it is real or not, this trend would increase as the number of lending applications increased. Additionally, it is expected that a number of imitation websites and apps will proliferate online.
The RBI tried to limit lending businesses’ access to client data and increase transparency over the interest rates they charge in a series of recommendations announced earlier this month.