Google has taken down hundreds of loan apps from the Play Store in Kenya, after its new policy, which requires digital lenders in the East African country to submit proof of license, took effect in January.
The policy followed the coming into force of Kenya’s Digital Credit Providers (DCP) regulations last year, requiring entities providing loans digitally to acquire licenses from the country’s pinnacle bank, the Central Bank of Kenya.
It was not immediately clear how many loan apps had been blacklisted as Google was unavailable for comment. However, a spot check by TechCrunch today showed that nearly 500 apps previously in the finance category on Play Store, including MoKash and Okash, had been taken down. TechCrunch had at the beginning of February established that 657 apps were listed in the finance category which features loans, banking and investing apps. Today, only 198 apps are listed in the category.
By January, only 22 digital lenders, including Tala, a PayPal-backed loan app; Pezesha, a B2B embedded lending platform; and Jumo, a fintech provider providing financial services including lending, had been licensed out of the 381 that applied, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.
Google requires loan apps awaiting CBK’s approval, to submit a declaration form to obtain interim approval, which will be valid for 45 days, to be listed on Play Store.
The loan apps offer quick unsecured personal or business loans, and previously, many were charging exorbitant interests, applied debt shaming tactics to recover their money, and shared customer data with third parties – taking advantage of a lack of regulations, and Google Play Store’s slack vetting process, until DCP regulations came into force.
The regulations, meant to weed out rogue players, also require loan apps to observe consumer privacy and data protection rights, and anti-money laundering laws. This is in addition to disclosing the terms and pricing of loans to customers before approval and disbursement.