According to sources, Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has been instructed by the Indian government and central bank to implement more controls to help lessen the use of illegal digital lending services in India.
Even though Google is not under the control of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank and the Indian government are said to have summoned the American tech giant to meetings on several occasions recently and urged it to enact stricter checks and balances that might help eliminate such apps.
Dealing with the illegal apps
Regulators in India have already asked lenders to examine the illegal loan apps that gained popularity during the outbreak more closely. Regulators try to stop the proliferation of mobile apps that engage in dubious activities along with charging exorbitant interest rates and fees, using recovery techniques that are not authorized by the central bank, or violating money laundering and other relevant laws.
Google claims that the Play Store developer program policy for financial services applications was modified last year and that starting in September 2021, personal loan apps in India would be subject to additional criteria.
A Google spokeswoman revealed that they had banned over 2,000 personal loan apps aimed at India from the Play Store for breaking the Play policy criteria, adding that such actions are done if its regulations are broken. To help solve this issue, they will continue to cooperate with law enforcement organizations and business associations.
Google is responsible for enforcing this rule and ensuring compliance, even though the Indian central bank mandates that any lending apps that are published on app stores be supported by regulated organizations.
Google and Complaints
Another specifically linked industry source states that Google has also been directed to look into ways to limit the distribution of these programs through alternative download choices and websites.
Google has started responding to complaints made by trade organizations. Google used to disregard criticism about particular apps. One of the four industry insiders directly involved in the matter and aware of discussions with Google asserted that the company is now more proactive and does look into complaints when they are brought to their attention.
The government and RBI are compiling a white list of loan requests that have been granted. According to the central bank’s requirements, the borrower must deal directly with a bank for both the loan and the recovery, which may discourage the employment of outside recovery firms.
Google rules the app market in India, where 95% of smartphones run the Android operating system. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the RBI did not promptly respond to emails seeking their opinions.
About the New Policy
India’s digital lending market has grown quickly and facilitated $2.2 billion in digital loans in 2021-22. It is not clear how much of that is via apps engaging in illegal practices. These lenders often reach customers via advertisements on platforms like Facebook and Google. Starting next month, Google will roll out a new advertising policy for financial services in India, a blog post on its website shows.
The policy says that to show financial services ads in India, advertisers need to be verified in the country. As part of the verification, advertisers must demonstrate that they are licensed by the relevant financial services regulator, the blog says.