FM Sitharaman’s Stand Against Fraudulent Digital Lending Apps

FM Sitharaman

The government recently revealed that Google has taken down more than 2,500 fraudulent loan apps from its Play Store between April 2021 and July 2022. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha about the collaborative efforts between various regulatory bodies to address this pressing concern.

In her written reply to the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman emphasized the proactive measures taken to combat these fraudulent apps. Discussions within the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), a forum chaired by the Finance Minister, regularly address the matter. The primary focus remains on maintaining cyber security preparedness, taking timely action, and remaining vigilant against potential vulnerabilities in India’s financial system.

Responding to these concerns, the RBI shared a ‘whitelist’ of legal apps with the government, which was then passed on to Google by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity). Google updated its policy for loan lending apps, enforcing stringent measures and allowing only regulated entities or their partners to publish apps on the Play Store.

Sitharaman noted that Google reviewed around 3,500 to 4,000 loan lending apps during this period and removed over 2,500 fraudulent ones from its Play Store. Additionally, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been actively analyzing digital lending apps, identifying suspicious ones, and reporting them to Meity for appropriate action.

To create awareness and protect citizens against cybercrimes, various initiatives have been implemented by the government, RBI, and banks. The RBI’s electronic-Banking Awareness And Training (e-BAAT) program and a nationwide intensive Awareness Programme (NIAP) in collaboration with regulated entities focus on fraud awareness and risk mitigation.

In a separate response, Sitharaman mentioned that over 44.46 crore loans totaling Rs 26.12 lakh crore have been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) as of November 24, 2023. PMMY offers collateral-free institutional credit up to Rs 10 lakh to eligible individuals for small business enterprises

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