Google Blocks Access to Contacts and Images by Lending Applications

SECP has heard reports regarding loan apps engaging in forceful and unethical methods, such as customer extortion which made Google block lending apps.

Google has forbidden personal loan applications from seeing Pakistani users’ contacts or photographs.

The platform required the applications in Pakistan to present country-specific licence documentation to demonstrate their capacity to offer personal loans as part of its April 2023 policy change.

To prevent the apps from gaining access to users’ contacts or photographs, Google said it was modifying the “Personal Loans Policy.” According to a statement from Google, “We are imposing extra restrictions for personal loan applications reaching consumers in Pakistan.”

Following India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Kenya, Pakistan is the sixth nation to which Google has added further restrictions for online lending apps.

Following several discussions with Pakistan’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SECP), which oversees the corporate sector, Pakistan has been added to Google’s updated policy.

The SECP has gotten a variety of complaints about registered and unregistered loan apps that engage in abusive and coercive behaviour, including extortion of its users. The SECP has also brought charges against NBFCs that have released their digital applications, limiting each NBFC to the publication of just one lending app.

A senior commission official responded to the question regarding the actions captured by the SECP against illegal and unlicensed lending apps by stating that three lenders have already provided their Cyber Security Audit Reports together with certificates issued by PTA-approved audit firms, demonstrating their dedication to safeguarding customer information.

The official noted that in addition to the policy framework, discussions on the removal of programmes that originate from outside Pakistan have been placed with Google, Apple, mobile wallet companies, and telecom service providers.

The number of digital lending services has greatly risen in recent years. There are now just three licenced online lending apps, 10 licenced NBFCs, and 30 to 40 unauthorised applications running coming from external Pakistan.

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