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Those apps include CashBean, Moneed, iCredit, CashKey, RupeeFly and RupeePlus, which have been downloaded a total of nearly 12 million times.
Moneed said it adhered to RBI rules and that any company that did not do so should not be allowed to do business. In response to a Reuters query about whether it had offered loans that required full repayment in 60 days or less, it said: “We support 90 days repayment for the loan cycle.”
CashBean also said it followed RBI guidelines. “Our customer-care lines are open for all our borrowers at all times,” it added. It did not directly address a question on whether it offered loan tenures of 60 days or less.
CashKey, iCredit, RupeeFly and RupeePlus did not respond to emails seeking comment and were not reachable by phone.
The lending app industry has separately attracted the scrutiny of police who say they are investigating dozens of apps following the suicides of at least two borrowers in the past month after they and their families were allegedly harassed by debt-recovery agents.
The police haven’t disclosed the identities of the those under investigation.
Debt-recovery harassment is prohibited under RBI rules which say collection agents cannot harass borrowers by “persistently bothering” them, or by contacting their family or acquaintances.
The Reuters review of 50 popular lending apps available on Google Play found that nearly all of them require borrowers to give them permission to access their phone contacts.
Mahesh Dommati, a 28-year-old tech worker in Hyderabad who lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdown, was unable to repay the 6,000 rupee loan he had taken out from an app called Slice. He said recovery agents used his contact list to repeatedly call his family and friends, demanding they pay on his behalf.
Slice said it abided by RBI rules and did not engage in harassment. (Reporting by Nupur Anand; additional reporting by Jatindra Dash and Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Euan Rocha and Pravin Char)