RBI working group submits report on digital lending

A Working Group (WG) set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps, has submitted its recommendations on enhancing customer protection and making the digital lending ecosystem safe and sound while encouraging innovation.

The WG with Jayant Kumar Dash, executive director, RBI, as its chairman was set up on 13 January 2021 in the backdrop of business conduct and customer protection concerns arising out of the spurt in digital lending activities. The following are some of the report’s key recommendations:
  • Subjecting the Digital Lending Apps to a verification process by a nodal agency to be setup in consultation with stakeholders;
  • Setting up of a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) covering the participants in the digital lending ecosystem;
  • A separate legislation to prevent illegal digital lending activities;
  • Development of certain baseline technology standards and compliance with those standards as a pre-condition for offering digital lending solutions;
  • Disbursement of loans directly into the bank accounts of borrowers and disbursement and servicing of loans only through bank accounts of the digital lenders;
  • Data collection with prior and explicit consent of borrowers with verifiable audit trails;
  • All data to be stored in servers located in India;
  • Algorithmic features used in digital lending to be documented to ensure necessary transparency;
  • Each digital lender to provide a key fact statement in a standardised format, including the annual percentage rate;
  • Use of unsolicited commercial communications for digital loans to be governed by a Code of Conduct to be put in place by the proposed SRO;
  • Maintenance of a ‘negative list’ of Lending Service Providers by the proposed SRO; and
  • Standardised code of conduct for recovery to be framed by the proposed SRO in consultation with RBI.
RBI on Thursday (18 November) placed the report on its website for comments of stakeholders and members of the public, which may be submitted by 31 December 2021 through email. RBI will examine the comments before a final view is taken on the recommendations and suggestions made by the WG.