Apps such as Pocket Kash, White Kash, Golden Kash, and OK Rupee were among those pulled from the store by Apple.
While these apps had gained popularity, ranking in the top 20 of the finance category on the App Store in recent weeks, they also imposed exorbitant charges, as highlighted by numerous user reviews.
Furthermore, these lenders resorted to unethical practices to coerce borrowers into repayment. One user review from last month recounted a distressing experience:
“I borrowed an amount in a helpless situation and… a day before the repayment due date, I received messages with my picture and my contacts from my phone, threatening to inform them that I hadn’t repaid the loan.”
Many other reviews shared similar accounts, with some users reporting even more alarming threats from these lenders. The apps, developed by individuals with dubious identities and suspicious websites, were filled with hundreds of such reviews.
SurgeZirc SA contacted Apple for comment on Monday, and within two days, the company had removed at least six of these apps.
Apple confirmed that the apps violated the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and guidelines, as they falsely claimed an association with a financial institution.
Apple emphasized its commitment to providing a safe user experience on the App Store, stating, “We do not tolerate fraudulent activity on the App Store and have stringent rules against apps and developers who attempt to cheat the system.”
The company revealed that in 2022 alone, the App Store prevented over $2 billion in fraudulent transactions, rejected nearly 1.7 million app submissions that failed to meet quality and safety standards, and terminated 428,000 developer accounts for potential fraudulent behavior.
The rapid growth of the fintech industry in India has unfortunately given rise to predatory lending apps. These apps take advantage of the nation’s increasing smartphone adoption and the urgent economic needs of individuals.
Exploiting regulatory loopholes, some digital platforms offer almost instant unsecured loans, albeit with staggeringly high interest rates.
The underprivileged, who often lack access to traditional financial services, are particularly vulnerable to these practices.
The situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has deepened financial insecurities due to widespread job losses and reduced incomes.
While Google’s app store, which dominates India’s smartphone market with the Android operating system, has historically been the primary platform for predatory lending apps in the country, both Google and the central bank have taken aggressive measures in the past year to address the issue.
These measures include mandating transparent communication of loan terms to users and limiting access to personal data by lending apps.