Google takes another step to protect its users from predatory loan sharks by banning payday loan apps from the Google Play store.
Earlier in 2016, Google took a small but prominent step by implementing a ban on payday loan ads in its search browser. Following that, Google decided to take another leap by updating Google’s app development guidelines for Android operating systems. The new guidelines state that any apps for personal loans with Annual Percent Rate of 36% or higher are not allowed on the Google Play Store. Furthermore, according to the new guidelines, the Personal Loan apps must display their maximum Annual Percent Rate (APR), calculated consistently with the Truth In Lending Act (TILA).
A Google spokesman said that the financial- services policy was expanded to protect the user from deceptive and exploitative loan terms.
The guidelines implemented in August have caused havoc among the online moneylenders who are not at all happy with the change. The changed guidelines force the moneylenders to either change their Annual Percent Rate to meet Google’s requirement or to withdraw from the race completely.
While many states in the U.S are taking initiatives to tighten the reins on high- interest loans, Google has emerged as one of the biggest tech giants to add to the efforts to keep the companies who try to manipulate legal business models in check.
On the one hand, where people are happy with the change, the chief executive of Online Lenders Alliance Mary Jackson is quoting the change as “unfair to the commerce worlds”. She argues that it harms the legitimate operators and legitimate consumers in need of legal loans. CURO Financial Corp., Enova International Tech., and Money lion are just some of the lenders that are greatly affected by the new guidelines.
An African American advocacy group, Colors of Change, earlier this year requested Google and Apple to change their guidelines to keep the exploitive moneylenders in check. Where an Apple spokesperson handles the issue by stating that they regularly review its app store guideline, Google came back with definitive action.
The vice president for Color of Change, Arisha Hatch, said that the policy change effectively cuts off the Google Play store as a vehicle for predatory loans and talked about their plans to push Apple to do the same.
Implementation of these bans on payday loans does not necessarily mean that every Android user is sheltered from these apps. One may not be able to download the app from the Google Play store but can easily do so from the non-Google source, though Google opposes this idea due to major security concerns.
While moneylenders are fighting the battle by justifying their actions as legal and legitimate, Google is marking its actions as consequential for protecting not only its users but people in general from the barbaric rate of interests.
In hindsight, the actions taken by Google not only help the users avoid the predatory payday loans but look for a more viable option with lower Annual Percent Rate if in need.