Google has prohibited personal digital lending apps from accessing Pakistani users’ contacts or photos. The platform required the apps in Pakistan to submit country-specific license documentation to demonstrate their ability to provide 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 introducing additional requirements for personal loan apps targeting users in Pakistan.”
After India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Kenya, Pakistan is the sixth nation to which Google has added further restrictions for digital 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 received a number of complaints about registered and unregistered loan apps that engage in unethical and coercive behavior, including extortion of its users. The SECP has also taken action 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 taken by the SECP against illegal and unregistered lending apps by stating that three lenders have already provided their Cyber Security Audit Reports along with certificates issued by PTA-approved audit firms, demonstrating their commitment to protecting customer data.
The official noted that in addition to the policy framework, discussions on the removal of programs that originate from outside Pakistan have been place with Google, Apple, mobile wallet companies, and telecom service providers.
The number of digital lending services has increased dramatically in recent years. There are now just three licensed digital lending apps, 10 licensed NBFCs, and 30 to 40 unauthorized applications running from outside Pakistan.