Google has announced plans to restrict loan apps on its Play Store from accessing sensitive user data such as photos, videos, and contacts. The update, which was pushed to the Personal Loans Policy yesterday, will take effect from May 31st. 

“Apps that provide personal loans, or have the primary purpose of facilitating access to personal loans (i.e., lead generators or facilitators), are prohibited from accessing sensitive data, such as photos and contacts,” the company said in its update.

This move is in response to the growing concerns about predatory lending practices adopted by loan apps globally. In Africa—especially Nigeria and Kenya—these (mostly unregulated) lenders adopt debt-shaming and unethical data-sharing practices to torture their customers into repayment. 

The proliferation of bad actors in these countries gave way to the strict regulatory oversight that followed. Now, Kenya’s central bank and Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) are gradually overhauling the industry, one licence at a time. Google is also privy to these changes, allowing only the licenced apps to remain on its platform

Google has been described in recent times as a pseudo-regulator of African digital credit providers. This move adds another regulatory stroke that will further manage the operators in the space, and hopefully, deal a fatal blow to predatory lending in Africa

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