Web browser Opera has often made several claims to being more ethically upright than a lot of leaders in its field. However, a new report is challenging this stance and shedding light on how the firm operates.
Opera’s loan apps accused of engaging in predatory behavior and violating Google Play Store’s policies https://t.co/yTiMe1BpPW
— XDA (@xdadevelopers) January 20, 2020
Research from Hindenburg Research has shown that Opera had in the past resorted to highly unethical business practices in a bid to mitigate losses on its app platform. As the company explained, the Chinese investor-backed browser had created several loan apps that offer short payment windows with interest rates between 365 and 876 percent.
Loans Have Propped up Opera’s Revenues Thus Far
Opera began its mission to dominate the web browser market in 2017 but met constant challenges as users seemed to continue preferring choices like Google Chrome and Firefox. Rather than fight these behemoths, the Chinese backed-company turned its focus on Africa to capitalize on the continent’s financial and consumer markets.
Currently, the company provides short-term predatory lending to its consumers via four major apps- OPay in Nigeria, OPesa and OKash in Kenya, and CashBean in India. It’s dominance in Africa, of course, is no accident. The company also entered the ride-hailing and media markets there, and its arrival on the scene has been met with generally positive reception on the continent, especially in Nigeria.
However, the company’s financial services apps seem to be taking the heat now, as Hindenburg Research explained that they have only been able to remain on the Google Play Store (except OPesa, that is) through unfair practices.
“Very Short-Term” Loans
For instance, Hindenburg found that the listing for OKash showed that its loans range between 91 and 365 days. However, when contacted, the company responded that it only offered 15 to 29 days. Other apps operated by Opera were found to be engaging in similar practices as well.
The problem with this is that the time frame provided is in direct violation of Google’s policies. Last year, the Internet giant updated its requirements to state that payment periods offered by any loan apps on its Play Store should be a minimum of 60 days. OKash’s numbers fall significantly short of that.
Apart from that, reviews for OPesa and OKash also showed that the companies sent threatening messages to users who had defaulted on their loans, threatening to place them on credit blacklists or take legal action against them. They reportedly stopped doing that, but such predatory action is part of what has given the lending industry a bad name over the years.
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