For anyone who bothers to read the small print, payday loans have always seemed like a terrible idea — but that hasn’t stopped people taking out these short-term loans, which impose very high interest rates on the cash strapped and the needy. As governments continue to crack down on the practice of super-spiked loan rates, Google too is taking a stance.
Beginning on July 13 of this year, Google will no longer allow adverts for loans that with 60-day repayment periods or less, nor will it give the go ahead for anything with more than a 36-percent annual percentage rate (APR). Any companies attempting to take out adverts on Google in breach of those terms will be blacklisted and will never be able to use Google’s advertising services again.
This is quite a bold move by Google, as the payday loan industry is said to be worth around $9 billion, so the firm is alienating a lot of potential custom. Clearly it feels that taking the moral high ground is important though, as it sees the practice as “deceptive or harmful,” to consumers, and as one that often puts them in a position where repayments become unaffordable.
This puts payday loans in the same banned category as tobacco, weapons, and recreational drugs, regardless of their legality in different jurisdictions.
While many people would agree with all of these bans, not everyone would, and some may regard Google’s stance in one or more of these instances as moral grandstanding.
It seems hard to imagine a scenario where people other than those who stand to profit, would have a problem with Google blocking exploitative loan firms from pushing their products on consumers. Google is also within its rights as a company to refuse service to some firms. But if we play Devil’s advocate, is Google’s influence too big for it to make these sorts of sweeping decisions?