After days of criticism, Apple removed several predatory lending apps from the App Store in India.
Apple removed Pocket Kash, White Kash, Golden Kash, and OK Rupee this week. In recent weeks, the apps reached the top 20 of the App Store’s finance list by offering Indian consumers fast-track lending. According to hundreds of user reviews, they also charged excessively.
Lenders used unethical methods to collect.
“I borrowed an amount in a helpless situation and […] a day before repayment due date I got some messages with my pic and my contacts in my phone saying that repay your loan otherwise they will inform our contacts that you r not paying loan,” a last-month user review said.
The apps’ developers had strange names and suspicious websites, and hundreds of similar reviews shared even more alarming lender threats.
Wtf is this, a personal loan app called Kash is threatening to send morphed nude photos of their customer to her entire contact list?! pic.twitter.com/5LcsukVgef
— Sandhya Ramesh (@sandygrains) July 3, 2023
Apple pulled at least six apps after contacted them on Monday.
Apple told it removed the apps because they violated the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and guidelines.
“The App Store, and our App Review Guidelines, are designed to ensure we are providing the safest experience possible to our users,” an Apple spokesperson said. “We have strict rules against apps and developers who try to cheat the system on the App Store.”
The App Store stopped over $2 billion in fraudulent transactions in 2022, rejected nearly 1.7 million app submissions, and terminated 428,000 developer accounts for potentially fraudulent activity.
Predatory lending apps have emerged in India’s fintech boom. Smartphone adoption and economic need drive their growth. Exploiting regulatory loopholes, some digital platforms offer almost instantaneous, unsecured loans with sky-high interest rates.
Such practices target the poor, who lack access to traditional financial services. The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread job losses and lower incomes, worsening financial insecurity.
Predatory lending apps in India have traditionally used Google Play, whose Android mobile operating system dominates the smartphone market. In the past year, Google and the central bank have aggressively intervened to fix the situation, requiring lending apps to disclose their terms and limit their access to personal data.