OPay at Risk of Being Kicked Off Playstore as Report Finds Opera Guilty of Offering Exploitative Loans


Opera has come under scrutiny for allegedly offering predatory loans to its customers in Nigeria, Kenya and India.

The company has 3 loan android apps – CashBean (India), OKash (OPay, Nigeria), and OPesa (Kenya) – services which provided approximately 5 million loans valued at $250 million in Kenya, India and Nigeria in Q3 of 2019.

OPay Could be Kicked off Playstore if Opera is Guilty of Predatory Lending Practices
Kenya’s OKash

But according to Hidenburg Research, these apps are reported to offer predatory loans that come with deceptive descriptions.

The research report indicates that while the apps claim to offer maximum annual percentage rate (APR) of about 33% or less, the actual rates were much higher, as much as 438% in the case of OPesa.

And although they claim to offer a repayment period of 60 to 90 days, in compliance with Google’s new policy for lending apps, the real length was no more than 29 days (for OKash) and sometimes 15 days – well under Google’s 60-day minimum.

This trend is reported to be as a result of the dip by the platform’s main offering, the Opera browser, whose market share has dropped from 5% to 2%. However, the lending service also experiences massive defaults – about 50% of lending revenue are either not repaid quickly enough or not repaid at all.

If this report is anything to go by, Opera could be violating Google Play Store policies.

In August 2019, Google published a set of new rules, in a move to keep its users safe from the predatory loan apps that were beginning to multiply on its store. This included the, prohibition of loan apps with an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 36% or higher.

These apps were said to be harmful to the users as it plays on their needs to exploit them.

“These (loans) are for people (who) could not even afford their basic needs. Most Kenyans, they are low income earners. And apparently most of them they don’t have enough even for their families.”

Hindenburg Research.

Apps were either to adjust their policies or risk being be pulled out.

Although, the rules were initially applied to defaulting apps in the US, it remains unclear if it has/is being extended to lenders in Africa or anywhere else.

Should the latter be the case, and Opera’s mobile apps are found guilty, they are at risk of being pulled off the platform. This could be a big blow to the company since these loan apps now accounts for over 42% of its entire revenue and Google Playstore is the main source for download.

As well as Opera’s lending app, other predatory “quick loan services”, whose massive patronage have surged in recent times due to the gap in the lending space in Nigeria could also get the axe.

As such, these platforms will need to provide alternatives for their Android users to sideload the apps from their sites or partner sites, or access their services from the website itself.

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