Opera Allegedly Behind Predatory Loan Applications as its Software Battles Against Chrome

Engineers Blog

Although the Opera browser has several features that could snatch people away from Chrome, Google’s app is crushing the market entirely. Opera has grown into loan apps to help bring extra money, according to a new report, but their extortionate interest rates and limited turnaround periods brought them in breach of Google’s Play Store policy.

Hindenburg Research’s report claims that Opera operates four Android apps — CashBean, OKash, OPay, and OPesa — targeted to India, Kenya, and Nigeria’s “developing” markets.

Although Opera estimates the interest rates of the loans as being between an average of 12% and 33% per year, the actual rate is between 365 and 438%. Those estimates are even worse when repayments are only one day late, increasing to 876 per cent.

In addition, loans are provided over 91 to 365 days, but the actual periods vary from just seven days for OPay to a maximum of 29 days for OKash — all significantly lower than Google’s 60-day cap on store apps.

The Play Store reviews make them sound even worse as unethical as the apps do seem. Some of the applications scraped phone numbers from lenders ‘ accounts, contacting or calling them while payments were late in order to get customers to pay — a tactic that ended as unlawful last year. Some of the texts were threatening to bring legal action or place a creditor on a blacklist.

One of the applications has already been pulled from the Play Store, and more could follow, which would have a huge impact on the bottom line of the product.

Since the publication of the study, the stock price of Opera has dropped from $9 to a $6.88 low.

A recent reply from Opera in its Investor Relations section, Opera has denied Hindenburg’s allegations, stating the report contains “numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misleading conclusions.”

By: Frances Nicole O. Lunzaga

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