India blocks PayU’s LazyPay, Kissht and Indiabulls Home Loans in fresh crackdown

Fintech Kissht and PayU’s LazyPay are among the apps that India’s IT Ministry has blocked in the ongoing crackdown as New Delhi moves to curb the misuse of consumers’ data and protect the nation’s integrity.

The LazyPay website has been blocked by several internet service providers in the country. A message on the Prosus-owned website says the action was taken in compliance with the IT Ministry’s order. The app of Kissht, another high-profile fintech startup, has also been blocked. Kissht is backed by Vertex Growth and Brunei Investment and is valued at over $450 million. It has raised $125 million to date.

Faircent and Indiabulls Home Loans are also among the blocked apps, according to a source familiar with the matter. Indiabulls said in a statement that it has not been blocked.

“Due to unavoidable circumstances our website and app are currently unavailable via a few internet service providers. Please be assured that we are doing everything to resolve the issue,” a LazyPay spokesperson said in a statement.

It’s unclear what all rules LazyPay and Kissht had violated. The LazyPay app, which gives short-term, small-ticket size loans to consumers, has disbursed more than $260 million to customers in India.

In a statement to TechCrunch, a Kissht spokesperson said the company had no Chinese stakeholders and that it was aware that “Google has been asked to take down a list of companies from the Play Store that includes our company.”

New Delhi is in the process of blocking 232 apps, some with links to China, that offer betting and loan services in the South Asian market to prevent misuse of the citizens’ data. Nearly 140 of these apps are in the betting and gambling category, whereas over 90 provide unauthorized loan services.

The ministry’s move was prompted at the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, state-owned broadcaster Prasar Bharati said on Sunday. The apps sought to mislead customers into taking big debts without realizing the terms and there were concerns that they could be used as tools for espionage and propaganda.

The ministry has not identified what all apps it’s blocking. Google did not have a comment.

“What you have heard is false and the company has received no such communication from MEITY or any other government bodies. The Indiabulls Home Loans app is completely indigenously developed, and all loans extended by the company are funded by the company, which is a listed entity and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Indiabulls’ website has been down since Monday.