ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Web Desk) – The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has stopped 43 digital lending applications that were functioning without a legitimate license, as directed by Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) Syed Aminul Haque.
The applications were chastised for their predatory lending practices when a man committed himself after failing to settle a Rs800,000 loan.
According to the statement, the ministry directed PTA Chairman retired Maj Gen Hafeezur Rehman to take action against unlawful loan applications.
Haque said that “strict action” had been taken against the applications that were “blackmailing the masses.” The minister emphasized the need of initiating an awareness campaign to prevent people from becoming victims of such fraudulent acts.
Individuals should also submit concerns to relevant authorities such as the PTA, the FIA Cybercrime, and local police in order for these unlawful lending applications to be dealt with appropriately.
According to MoITT, the IT minister also contacted the FIA with instructions to take action against such elements rather than waiting for complaints.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is responsible for registering digital lending applications, while the State Bank and the PTA are responsible for prohibiting them.
“The SECP has been able to block 86 illegal apps in a year with the help of Google as they are downloaded from the PlayStore,” a senior SECP official said, adding that these apps quickly resurface under a new name.
These applications also use heavy advertising on social media and other channels to attract additional naive clients.
In the aftermath of Mahmood Masood’s death, the FIA is scrutinizing all legitimate and unlawful loan applications. According to a senior FIA officer, the deceased obtained loans not just through lending apps but also from family and acquaintances.
Meanwhile, the FIA has opened 74 cases for enquiries on complaints submitted by affectees and three FIRs against persons and corporations during its nationwide operation on illicit loaning enterprises.
The FIA detained 17 people from different locations who were conducting illicit internet lending schemes and banned 30 accounts.
Mohsin Hassan Butt, Director General of the Financial Investigation Agency, has urged all field units of the cyber crime division to take harsh action against organizations and people selling loans via unregistered and unlawful mobile apps.