Google is banning apps that provide personal loans from accessing sensitive user data in a bid to clamp down on predatory activity among some lenders.
In a policy update late Wednesday, the company said that the apps available on Google Play were “prohibited” from accessing sensitive data, such as photos or contact books.
The new policies apply to apps that provide personal, payday and peer-to-peer loans, and not to mortgages and car loans. The changes will come into force on May 31.
Recent research has found that loan apps available on online stores such as Google Play and the Apple App Store have offered easy access to loans, before harassing debtors for repayment and charging high interest rates.
Almost 300 predatory apps targeting users in South East Africa and Asia were available on Google Play and the Apple App Store in November 2022, according to researchers from Lookout Threat Lab, a data protection company.
The report added that predatory behaviour was found in less economically developed countries as a result of looser financial regulations and more difficult access to traditional loan providers.
Google said it had introduced additional requirements for loan apps in countries including India, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria and Kenya, requiring apps to provide extra documentation or proof they are licensed to provide personal loans.
Google already bans apps that provide short term personal loans — which require repayment within 60 days — and blocks loan apps that charge an annual percentage rate of 36 per cent or above in the United States.