Apple said the apps were removed for flouting guidelines and falsely representing association with a financial institution
At least half a dozen lending apps such as Pocket Kash, White Kash, Golden Kash, and OK Rupee were removed from App Store this week
The move to bar the apps comes close on the heels of users flagging predatory lending practices of apps listed on App Store
Following a flurry of online complaints, Apple has cracked down on illegitimate digital lending operators and delisted many such apps from its India App Store.
Confirming the development to Inc42, Apple said the apps were removed for flouting its guidelines and developer program license agreement. The company added that the apps in question were determined to be ‘falsely representing an association with a financial institution’.
“We do not tolerate fraudulent activity on the App Store, and have stringent rules against apps and developers who attempt to cheat the system,” said Apple.
As per Techcrunch, the tech major removed at least half a dozen lending apps such as Pocket Kash, White Kash, Golden Kash, and OK Rupee from its app store this week. The apps reportedly climbed up the top 20 ladder of the App Store in recent weeks, despite hundreds of reviews flagging them for levying exorbitant charges.
As per the report, the developers of the app had suspicious names and websites. Besides, the comment section of these apps was brimming with users alleging that the app operators were threatening them with leaking personal information.
With this, Apple has joined fellow tech major Google in cracking the whip on illegal digital lending apps in the country. Recently, Google said it took action against 3,500 digital lending apps listed on Play Store in 2022 for flouting its guidelines.
In comparison, Apple said it blocked nearly 1.7 Mn app submissions and terminated 4.28 lakh developer accounts in 2022 for failing to meet its ‘standards of quality and safety’ and potentially fraudulent activity.
Menace Of Illegal Digital Lending Apps
At the heart of the matter is the growing concerns around digital lending apps which have mushroomed in India in the recent past. Many of these apps have been known to lure customers by offering small ticket-size loans at a quick pace, unlike traditional banks which do due diligence and take time.
However, these digital apps then remploy predatory tactics to get their money back. In many instances, users have complained of their morphed pictures being leaked or threats from operators warning of ‘consequences’.
In a recent instance, a Twitter user claimed that a loan app by the name of Kash listed on Apple’s App Store threatened to send morphed photos of a customer to their entire contact list.
A majority of these apps have been alleged to have links with Chinese entities and nationals. The harassment by the operators of these apps have also resulted in deaths by suicide.
The rising cases involving illegal digital lending apps also forced the union government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take a slew of steps to curb their menace. The government has even forwarded a white list of legitimate lending apps to both Google and Apple. Despite this, the recently-banned apps seem to have slipped through the cracks.
In addition, the RBI also released digital lending guidelines to rein in lending companies from deploying predatory practices to get their money back. Besides, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also tightened its noose around such companies. The agency recently said it has provisionally attached assets to the tune of INR 106 Cr belonging to several lending app operators for flouting anti-money laundering rules.
These illegal apps aim to cash in on the growing demand for digital lending in the country. India saw 1.8 Cr disbursals worth INR 18,537 Cr in Q3 FY23, led largely by the growing penetration of smartphones and cheap internet.
This has also spawned the rise of homegrown lendingtech companies, which offer competitive credit products. As per an Inc42 report, the homegrown digital lending market is projected to zoom to a size of $1.3 Tn by 2030.