Government orders Google to tighten loan app selection process in the Philippines

In this photo, the Google logo is seen on both a smartphone and a computer screen in Ankara, Turkey, on August 5, 2021. (Photo by Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Google will strengthen its approval process for personal loan applications based in the Philippines to combat illegal and abusive lending practices, including loan sharking, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

In a statement Tuesday, April 12, the SEC said the tech company will now require more documentation and evidence that developers are permitted to operate an online lender or engage in crowdfunding activities before they can publish apps to the Google Play Store .

The enhanced selection process will begin on May 11.

“Developers must declare that they are registered with and duly authorized by the SEC Philippines to operate an online lending platform (OLP), or to engage in lending-based crowdfunding activities, such as as peer-to-peer lending, or to act as a crowdfunding intermediary,” the statement read.

Those who cannot comply will be removed from Google Play Store, the SEC added. If the developer’s license and registration expires, Google will remove the app from the Playstore.

The SEC has reportedly been coordinating with Google since 2019 to address the rapid rise in unregistered personal loan applications as some companies reportedly resort to harassment and threats to collect debt in the event of default.

The commission has also stopped granting permissions for app lending since November 2021 and shut down 72 platforms. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has also capped interest rates and application fees.

The Philippines will be the third country where Google will implement stricter requirements for personal loan applications, after India and Indonesia, the SEC said.

“We thank Google for supporting our efforts to combat illegal and predatory lending, thereby preserving the integrity of the financing and lending industry, and providing Filipinos with safe and accessible financing options,” said the chairman of the company. SEC, Emilio Aquino.

To date, the SEC has revoked the registration certificates of more than 2,000 loan and finance companies, she added.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Filipino politics and events. She regularly follows global and local events. The opinions expressed are his own.

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