Google Deletes Hundreds of Kenya-based Loan Apps From Play Store

Google Play store

Since its new policy went into effect in January and called for digital lenders in the East African nation to provide proof of license, Google has removed hundreds of lending apps from the Kenyan Play Store.

The directive followed Kenya’s Digital Credit Providers (DCP) laws from the previous year, which demanded that businesses that offer loans online obtain a license from the Central Bank of Kenya.

An inquiry for comment from Google did not immediately receive a response.

It wasn’t immediately obvious how many loan applications had been blacklisted, but a quick check by TechCrunch today revealed that roughly 500 apps, including MoKash and Okash, that had previously been in the Finance category on the Play Store had been removed.

The Financial category, which includes apps for loans, banking, and investing among others, has 657 apps as of the beginning of February, according to TechCrunch. There are currently only 198 apps in the category.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya, only 22 of the 381 applicants for digital lenders had been granted licenses as of January. They were Jumo, which offers financial services including lending, Pezesha, a B2B embedded lending platform, and Tala, a PayPal-backed loan provider.

In order to receive interim approval, which is good for 45 days, Google requires loan apps awaiting a license to submit a declaration form attesting that approval is pending.

Many of these credit apps used to provide quick, unsecured personal or business loans; charge exorbitant interest rates; use debt-shaming tactics to recover their money; and share customer data with third parties, taking advantage of the absence of regulations and the Play Store’s lax vetting process. This practice continued prior to the DCP regulations taking effect.

Loan applications must also adhere to consumer privacy and data protection rights, as well as anti-money laundering rules, as part of the controls designed to weed out dishonest actors. Also, customers are informed of the conditions and costs of loans prior to approval and disbursement.

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