Google closes the door on payday loan sharks on Google Play store

Anne Freier

In App Business. October 21, 2019

Google is making it harder for consumer loan and payday lender apps with high-interest rates to reach consumers through the Play Store.

The company now prohibits apps that offer personal loans at annual percentage rates of 36% or higher.

The change is in line with modifications to Android operating system guidelines announced in August. Payday loans often carry triple-interest rates.

“Payday loans are dangerous and unaffordable for everyone, but borrowers who are just starting out or who are struggling financially – they’re the most vulnerable,” Lisa Stifler, deputy director of state policy for the Center for Responsible Lending, told CNBC.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that its policies were in place to protect users and to safeguard them against financial abuse and exploitation.

Lenders affected by the ban include CURO Financial Technology Corp. and MoneyLion. Google will allow lenders to keep their apps on Google Play as long as they modify their products to not reach the 36% rate.

The decision was welcomed by consumer rights organisation, but drew criticism from lenders.

Back in 2016, Google already implemented a ban on ads targeting payday borrowers within its web search results.

Payday loans are already banned in 12 US states. However, there is much debate over whether they are good or bad.

Apple has yet to address the presence of payday loan apps across its App Store.