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Infractions: Google removes over 2,000 loan apps from Play Store in 8 months

Photo: Elite-CIO

*The global search giant explains it is about introducing stricter policies for listing loan offering apps on the Play Store

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

For violating  the company’s terms, misrepresenting information, and questionable offline behaviour, Google has removed over 2,000 loan apps from India Play Store since January 2022.

Saikat Mitra, Senior Director and Head of Trust and Safety, Google APAC (Asia Pacific Region), who stated this said that the Big Tech also intended to tighten policies in the coming weeks for greater checks in this space.

Mitra also stated the company is committed to complying with regulations in all jurisdictions it operates in, and termed online harm as a “global phenomenon”.

As regards concerns in some quarters, that the digital platforms are not doing enough to curb online harm and are in fact pushing back on new regulations coming in, Mitra asserted that Google’s priority and its core values have always been around user safety.

According to Google Senior Director and Head of Trust and Safety, the technology company believes in having open, multi-party industry dialogues with governments on regulation, he said adding “in our world everything starts with user safety and security.

“We have removed 2000-plus loan apps from India Play Store from January till now.”

Mitra further noted that the crackdown was based on leads and inputs received, violation of policy, lack of disclosures, and misinformation by the app developers.

He also suggested the loan app problem has “peaked”, and may subside, given the focus and attention the issue is garnering.

“We are in the process of some more policy changes that are going to come out in a matter of few weeks…which will make it more explicit on requirements…,” Mitra said.

He noted that the proposed move will lead to tighter checks, adding, the nature of the ‘loan app’ problem varies between markets.

ConsumerConnect reports the US and Nigerian markets, earlier this year, had a problem of “predatory loans” with digital credit firms, while in India, the situitation is said to be a combination of misrepresentation, non-compliance with policies and regulations, and improper offline or “real world” behaviour of such apps on recovery and other actions.

Mitra as well explained the situation in India: “It entails questions like….is the loan app prominently disclosing what people are signing up for, the rates for instance…are you tied-up with approved NBFC or bank…Is that bank on blacklist of RBI… it also gets into offline things for which we don’t have visibility but we get inputs from law enforcement agencies.”

On the issue of new regulations and government policies, Mitra said “as and when regulation comes, we work very closely with the government and industry.

“We think, we all are trying to achieve the same goals…which is respecting privacy and security.”

He stated: “We feel our policies should actually help us achieve that.

“As and when regulation comes, we have a dialogue and we ensure that we present our perspective.”

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