A Pakistani finance app called Barwaqt that was notorious for stealing user data and abusing users has finally been taken down from the Google Play Store. It appears that many complaints from the app’s unfortunate users have finally been taken note of.
The link has since been removed, according to a search for the app on the Play Store.
Google Play Store has (apparently) taken down the Barwaqt app. Likely reported by multiple affectees. As an investigator, I shared some of my own findings with Google. Can only pray it never resurfaces and again dupes ordinary citizens through legal + technical gibberish. pic.twitter.com/n5l4SKPcXC
— Zaki Khalid (@misterzedpk) July 13, 2022
For those who don’t know, Barwaqt is a Pakistani online loan app that provides various money-receiving options. The business asserts that customer information is secure, but the app has a history of stealing sensitive personal information like names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
The government has previously issued warnings against this app.
Digital lending Nonbank Financial Companies (NBFCs) had been warned by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) of regulatory intervention if full disclosure and ethical business practices are not upheld by the sector.
In order to discuss recent media reports about exorbitant interest rates, inadequate disclosures, and coercive collection practices allegedly used by lending platforms, SECP recently called a zoom meeting of the chief executives of NBFCs engaged in digital lending.
The controversy-filled history of the app is described in the following Twitter thread.
1/ Predatory online lending apps in Pakistan have had 15M downloads according to @datadarbar_io. Many of them have extremely high interest rates i.e. 40%+ for 15 days. There should be zero tolerance for such exploitation, period. Including below good reporting from several folks:
— Aatif Awan (@aatif_awan) July 3, 2022
Although the reason for the app’s removal is currently unknown, it probably has to do with the growing number of complaints from people who have used the fraudulent service.
We tried to get in touch with the CEO of Barwaqt for a formal response, but we haven’t been successful.