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SEC, Google to tighten screening of lending apps

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THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it is working alongside Google to enforce stricter regulatory compliance to online lending apps.

“After updating its screening process for online lending apps to help address the proliferation of predatory lending, Google will soon require advertisers offering cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets targeting the Philippine audience to present proof of their registration and/or license to operate in the country,” the SEC said in a media release on Thursday.

Effective on July 7, this rule adds to Google’s existing policy that requires all advertisers to comply with local laws for any area that their advertisements target.

“As the national government regulatory agency tasked with supervising the corporate sector, entities doing business in the Philippines must first register with the SEC, in general,” the regulator said.

Meanwhile, operators of cryptocurrency exchanges must register with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as remittance and transfer companies.

The SEC said it is seeking to educate the public on legitimate investment options through investor protection and financial literacy campaigns online.

“Over the course of the pandemic, the commission has observed that several entities have taken advantage of the online space to spread investment scams supposedly engaged in cryptocurrency trading when in reality, these do not exist,” it added.

SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said that its partnership with Google will help the commission fulfill its mandate as registrar and overseer of the Philippine corporate sector, as well as protector of the investing public, in the digital age.

“We believe the new policy can reduce the number of Filipinos falling prey to unregistered investment schemes online, who are usually victims of aggressive online advertising and intrusive tactics that make them believe in products that are often too good to be true,” he added.

In 2019, the SEC reached out to Google to work on countermeasures against the rising cases of unregistered personal loan apps.

In May 2022, Google revised its policy for personal loan apps targeting users in the Philippines, requiring them to submit a “Personal Loan App Declaration” and other necessary documents before they could publish apps on Google Play. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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