- Google updates its personal lending policy on the Play Store to limit app access to users’ photos, videos, contacts, precise location, and call logs.
- The measure is taken in response to the increase in predatory behavior by some lenders who harass borrowers, and who have accessed confidential information to pressure and harass users who have acquired credit through their applications.
- The company has also introduced specific license documentation requirements for apps offering personal loans in Pakistan, and has banned non-bank financial companies from having more than one digital lending app on the Play Store.
Google has announced new restrictions for apps that offer loans through the Play Store, with the aim of limiting access to sensitive user data.
This is due to concerns about predatory behavior by some lenders harassing borrowers, which has prompted Google to update its personal loan policy.
Starting May 31, 2023, apps that provide loans or have the primary purpose of facilitating access to personal loans will be prohibited from accessing users’ external storage, photos, videos, contacts, precise location, and call logs.
Protection against harassment by debt collectors
Google’s personal loan policy update responds to an emerging trend that has raised concerns.
According to recent accounts, some people who have acquired credit through mobile apps have been harassed by debt collectors. These recovery agents allegedly accessed the personal contacts of the borrowers, informing friends and family of the outstanding debts.
In more extreme cases, agents have used doctored images to further intimidate and distress those in debt, leading some people to take their own lives.
Measures taken by Google
Google has taken steps to address the problem of harassment through predatory lending apps. Initially, it blocked hundreds and thousands of personal loan apps from Play Store after being alerted by law enforcement agencies and central banks.
In addition, it introduced rules to ban unlicensed borrowing apps from the Android app store. It also requires specific license documentation for apps offering personal loans in Pakistan to demonstrate their ability to provide or facilitate credit, and has forced non-bank financial firms in the country to have only one digital lending app on the Play Store.
In markets like India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines, Google has introduced policy updates to protect users from predatory lending.