In a recent development, a parliamentary panel has reportedly grilled executives from startups and other key stakeholders regarding the alarming increase in cyber crimes in the country. Representatives from prominent fintech companies such as Razorpay, PhonePe, and CRED, along with quantum computing startup QNu Labs, appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance to discuss the issue of “cyber security and rising incidence of cyber/white-collar crimes.” NASSCOM, the industry body, also participated in the deliberations.
According to sources, the committee sought insights from attendees on various cyber security trends and discussed potential measures to address the related issues. Additionally, the members of the panel raised concerns about illegal lending apps during the discussions.
Chaired by Jayant Sinha, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP), the committee comprises notable members including P. Chidambaram from the Congress party, Sougata Roy from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Amar Patnaik, a BJP Rajya Sabha member.
The parliamentary panel’s focus on cyber crimes comes at a time when illegal lending apps have become a pressing concern across the country. Chinese lending apps, in particular, have faced scrutiny for operating without proper oversight and charging exorbitant interest rates, leading to harassment and distress among borrowers. Numerous victims have tragically resorted to self-harm or suicide due to the harassment inflicted by these predatory lenders.
In response to the mounting cases, the Indian government, in collaboration with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has implemented regulations to curb the usage of such apps. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently banned over 90 lending apps from app marketplaces as part of a broader crackdown on Chinese-linked apps.
The RBI has been working closely with central ministries to tighten the regulatory grip on illegal Chinese loan apps. It has shared a whitelist of approved loan apps with stakeholders for listing on app marketplaces. Moreover, the central bank issued digital lending guidelines aimed at preventing the harassment of individuals seeking online credit from unscrupulous digital loan providers.
Efforts by enforcement agencies, such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), to crack down on digital lending apps and freeze funds involved in illicit activities have been intensified. However, despite these measures, the unfortunate series of suicides related to such apps continues unabated.
Just last week, a 22-year-old man from Andhra Pradesh took his own life after enduring harassment from loan app operators. Similarly, in February, an 18-year-old tragically ended his life due to a similar incident.
The parliamentary panel’s interrogation of industry stakeholders underscores the urgency to address the rising cyber crime challenges and the need for stronger regulations and enforcement measures to protect vulnerable individuals from the predatory practices of illegal lending apps.