Islamabad: Google has agreed to ban unlicensed Pakistani digital lending apps from the Play Store, according to a senior Pakistan Securities and Exchange Commission (SECP) official.
At a workshop on Tuesday, SECP executive director Halida Habib said the commission had issued guidelines to address concerns about data breaches and forced recovery practices of licensed digital lending firms. .
She added that the search engine giant has agreed to ban all unlicensed digital lending apps from Pakistan’s Google Play Store (also known as Google Play Store). Most of them are operated from abroad.
Habib added that SECP and the state-owned bank are coordinating on the matter, after which the list of apps to be removed will be finalized.
“Under the new regulations, the deadline for digital lending companies to update their apps is March 27, and the final list is [of apps to be removed] I will prepare after that,” she added.
She said 58 unauthorized digital lending apps have been removed from Google’s PlayStore after negotiations in January 2023.
SECP has taken up the matter with relevant regulators, including the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, the FIA, the National Telecommunications and Information Technology Security Commission, the National Bank, and Google and Apple in removing unauthorized apps, she said. added.
Currently, there are only 10 non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) that are licensed to lend. These apps are governed by a different regulatory framework as they are within the domain of the SECP unlike commercial banks which are regulated by the SBP.
“By the end of next month, the full NBFC and bank whitelisted apps will be ready and transferred to Google,” a SECP official said.
With the growth of digital lending apps that enable the needy to secure short-term loans without collateral, a number of unlicensed entities have emerged that indulge in coercive and unethical lending practices.
After a string of complaints, SECP issued Circular 15 for consumer protection. The circular stipulated the minimum disclosures required of lenders prior to loan disbursement.
From January to November 2022, NBFC disbursed loans worth Rs 63.58 crore and authorities expect the number to double in 2023.
Published at dawn on March 1, 2023