By Beatriz Marie D. Cruz, Reporter

A SENATOR wants to investigate unregistered and unauthorized online lending platforms to protect Filipino consumers.

“As more and more Filipinos start to use the services of online lending platforms, there is a need to ensure that they are protected against deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices, including abusive collection and debt recovery practices,” Senator Joel J. Villanueva said in Senate Resolution 641.

He said several clients have complained about being harassed, intimidated and shamed by collecting agents for failing to pay their loans on time.

He also said some online lending platforms practice “irresponsible data harvesting” and unduly increase interest rates and other charges for late payments.

More than two million Filipino active users spent more than 75,000 hours using digital lending applications in 2022, according to consumer finance company Digido. It said online lending users account for 3.2% of the country’s adult population.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Google Philippines in January took down 33 unregistered online lending platforms from the Google Play Store for failing to register their business.

The apps were also faulted for failing to display their corporate names, SEC registration numbers and certificate of authority numbers on their platforms and advertisements.

Google has since required developers of online lending platforms in the Philippines to submit a personal loan application declaration and other important documents before they can publish on the platform.

“Measures have to be put in place and properly implemented to guarantee that consumers are only transacting with registered and authorized online lending companies to protect their interest and general welfare,” Mr. Villanueva said.

The SEC had canceled the licenses of 40 financing and lending companies for violating its rules, SEC Information Officer Arra B. Francia said via Viber message on Tuesday. She added that 81 lending platforms have been issued a cease-and-desist order.

The corporate regulator has revoked the registration of 2,084 lending companies for failing to comply with the Lending Company Regulation Act.