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Google took action against 3,500 personal loan apps in 2022 in India

Globally, Google prevented 1.43 million policy-violating apps from being published on Google Play

Google

Photo: Bloomberg

Shivani Shinde Mumbai

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Google in India took enforcement action against 3,500 personal loan apps in 2022, this also included the removal of apps from the Play Store for violation of the Play policy requirements.

This is part of the introduction of Google’s new license requirements introduced for personal loan apps in key geographies – Kenya, Nigeria, and the Philippines – with more stringent requirements for loan facilitator apps in India to combat fraud.

“In India, in 2022, we have reviewed and taken necessary enforcement action, including removal of apps, on more than 3,500 personal loan apps for violations of the Play policy requirements. We continue to uplevel our efforts in this area by regularly updating our policies and review processes,” said a blog from Google.

In 2021, Google revised its Play Store developer program policy for financial services apps, including additional requirements for personal loan apps in India effective 15, September 2021. This included completing a declaration form confirming that they are either licensed by the RBI to provide personal loans and submit a copy of the license, or alternatively, confirm that they only provide a platform to facilitate money lending by duly licensed lenders.

“In 2022, in India, we introduced additional requirements for developers offering personal loans in India as facilitators on behalf of NBFCs and banks, requiring them to also prominently disclose the names of all their partner NBFCs and banks in the app’s description and provide a live URL to the respective websites of partner NBFCs and banks where they are listed as an official agent, as part of the Personal Loan App Declaration,” said the blog.

The details of the blog also said that globally, the tech giant recently updated its Personal Loans policy to state that apps aiming to provide or facilitate personal loans may not access user contacts or photos. “As part of this update, apps that provide personal loans, or have the primary purpose of facilitating access to personal loans (i.e., lead generators or facilitators), are prohibited from accessing sensitive data, such as photos and contacts,” said the company.

The issue of unregulated personal loan apps attracted attention after the Reserve Bank of India in 2022 came up with a new regulatory framework. The central bank has recommended a law for Banning of Unregulated Lending Activities (BULA) to safeguard borrowers from predatory lending, harassment, and blackmail.

Globally, Google prevented 1.43 million policy-violating apps from being published on Google Play. Google also continued to combat malicious developers and fraud rings, banning 173,000 bad accounts, and preventing over $2 billion in fraudulent and abusive transactions.

“With strengthened Android platform protections and policies, and developer outreach and education, we prevented about 500K submitted apps from unnecessarily accessing sensitive permissions over the past 3 years,” said Google.

In 2022, the App Security Improvements program helped developers fix around 500,000 security weaknesses affecting about 300,000 apps with a combined install base of approximately 250 billion installs. “We also launched the Google Play SDK (software development kit) Index to help developers evaluate an SDK’s reliability and safety and make informed decisions about whether an SDK is right for their business and their users.

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First Published: Apr 27 2023 | 11:21 PM IST

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