Google desires that links to partner banks be displayed in loan apps.

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Loan disbursal apps and credit aggregators on the Google Play Store in India have to prominently display a link to the partner bank or non-banking finance company (NBFC). The measure has been introduced as an additional security feature by Google after a series of meetings the company had with officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) over the last few weeks.

Google updated the policy on September 5. Apps that have failed to comply–the deadline was September 19–will be deleted from the PlayStore.

“For apps that remain non-compliant with the requirements past the deadline provided, as is done for any policy non-compliance, we have been taking necessary enforcement action as part of our ongoing policy compliance sweeps, including removal of apps from the Play Store,” a Google spokesperson told ET.

The live links will allow users to verify the connection with the bank or NBFC, which in turn will highlight on their webpages a list of the loan disbursal apps or credit facilitators that they have approved or tied up with.

The government has been trying to tackle the menace of digital lending apps that defraud customers through the lure of instant credit. It has also been putting pressure on the ecosystem–including platforms such as Google, which distribute a majority of these apps–to do more to weed out fake apps. Google will continue to engage with law enforcement agencies and industry bodies to address this issue, the spokesperson added.

The IT ministry, in consultation with the RBI and the finance ministry, is also working on exhaustive guidelines that will detail the legal conditions that loan disbursal apps and loan facilitator platforms must adhere to while operating in India, a senior ministry official said.

“Instead of us asking them (Google or Apple) to allow or disallow certain apps, our approach is to draw up a comprehensive framework which will have measures within which such (loan) apps can operate,” the official said. “All other apps which fall afoul of these can be then removed. We are in talks with the RBI on the issue.”

The IT ministry has also asked Google to make its rules for listing loan apps “watertight,” another official said.

On September 9, the finance ministry said it had asked the RBI to prepare a whitelist of loan apps that would be allowed to operate in India. The ministry said that the IT ministry would be asked to ensure that only such apps are allowed to operate in India.

Google India introduced a new Play Store policy in May that required such apps to display prominently the institution that was underwriting the loans, the rate of interest and other details. The September 5 update requires them to add a link to banks and NBFCs besides asking the institutions to list the apps on their websites.

According to Google’s policy, all apps that offer loans directly, generate leads for banks and NBFCs or connect customers with third-party lenders must mention details such as the minimum and maximum time for repayment, interest rates and other costs in the metadata. This should also include “representative examples” of the total cost including the principal and applicable fees, as well as a privacy policy that discloses access, collection, use and sharing of personal and sensitive user data.

Loan apps in India are also required to submit a copy of their RBI licence to Google India if they have one.

In August, Saikat Mitra, a senior director and the head of trust and safety at Google in the Asia Pacific, told reporters that the company had removed as many as 2,000 credit disbursement apps between January and June for violating PlayStore policies, RBI rules on money lending, law enforcement agencies’ inputs and user feedback.

Mitra had then said that stricter rules, which would make the relationship between such credit disbursement apps and the banking partner more explicit, were in the offing.