Google has taken down hundreds of loan apps from the Play Store in Kenya since its new policy, which requires digital lenders in the East African country to submit proof of license, went into effect in January.
The policy came in the wake of Kenya’s Digital Credit Providers (DCP) regulations last year, which required entities that provide loans digitally to acquire a license to operate from the Central Bank of Kenya.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was not immediately clear how many loan apps had been blacklisted, but 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.
In early February, TechCrunch counted 657 apps in the Finance category, which lists loans, banking and investing apps amongst others. Today, only 198 apps are listed in the category.
By January, only 22 digital lenders had received a license out of the 381 that applied, according to the Central Bank of Kenya. These included Tala, a PayPal-backed loan provider; Pezesha, a B2B embedded lending platform; and Jumo, which provides financial services, including lending.
Google requires loan apps awaiting a license to submit a declaration form attesting that approval is pending in order to obtain interim approval, which will be valid for 45 days, to be listed on the Play Store.
Before the DCP regulations went into force, many of these credit apps used to offer quick, unsecured personal or business loans; charge exorbitant interest rates, apply debt-shaming tactics to recover their money, and share customer data with third parties, taking advantage of the lack of regulations and the Play Store’s slack vetting process.
The regulations, meant to weed out rogue players, also require loan apps to observe consumer privacy and data protection rights as well as anti-money laundering laws. This is in addition to disclosing the terms and pricing of loans to customers before approval and disbursement.