Experts flag dubious biz model of digital small money lending apps

Digital small money lending apps backed by financial professionals are using dubious means in their business with borrowers bearing the brunt, experts have flagged. These mobile apps offer loan of a few hundred rupees to about Rs 10,000.

“However, they hold back at least 25 per cent of the money in the name of processing fees and, further, the rate of interest is high in some cases, which is against the norm”, says Bengaluru Additional Commissioner of Police, Raman Gupta.

He alleged that the role of financial professionals is shady in the operations of such kinds of instant loan apps on mobile phones.

“There is a major role of chartered accountants and company secretaries and these finance professionals in setting up such instant money lending companies. They become directors and name someone else as the operator,” Gupta told PTI.

Gupta who had investigated dubious businesses of some of these mobile applications even agrees with the idea of blacklisting such financial professionals.

“The applications are developed in India and there are many software engineers here to develop it but the brain behind this business model is Chinese,” he stated.

Another expert said these platforms at the time of downloading the application get access to the phone calls, photographs and videos, which are used to blackmail the borrowers.

“In some cases, these digital loan apps make a profit as high as 2,100 per cent,” he said.

According to Gupta, these money-lenders hardly hire any recovery agents as they use the photographs, videos and contacts to blackmail people to cough up the amount.

“For recovery of their dues from defaulters, these digital money lending operators send messages to the contacts accessed from the borrowers’ phones, use the personal photographs and videos of the borrowers and in some cases morph the photograph of the money lenders and send them to the contacts on phone,” Gupta said.

According to sources in the financial sector, the dubious means of digital money lending platform have claimed many lives, especially during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when people were in dire need of money, and unable to pay back on time.

Police sources also pointed out at various instances of people ending their lives over the matter but did not divulge any numbers.

Gupta added “the only way is awareness among people against these applications. No one should download them. Also, the digital money lending platforms should be regulated and a policy should be formulated.”

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