In a significant move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a directive on November 15, instructing Bajaj Finance to cease the sanction and disbursal of loans under two of its lending products, namely ‘eCOM’ and ‘Insta EMI Card.’ This immediate action stems from the company’s non-adherence to the existing provisions outlined in the Digital Lending Guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India.
Reasons Behind the Action
The RBI emphasized specific violations, particularly the failure to provide Key Fact Statements to borrowers under the mentioned lending products. Additionally, deficiencies were identified in the Key Fact Statements issued for other digital loans sanctioned by Bajaj Finance. These lapses prompted the regulatory intervention, underlining the need for strict adherence to guidelines ensuring transparency and consumer protection.
Supervisory Restrictions and Review Mechanism
The central bank clarified that the supervisory restrictions imposed on Bajaj Finance will be subject to review upon the rectification of the identified deficiencies. The company is required to address these concerns to the satisfaction of the RBI. This underscores the regulator’s commitment to ensuring that digital lending practices align with established guidelines, safeguarding the interests of borrowers.
Background: RBI’s Regulatory Framework
The RBI had already taken proactive steps in this direction, releasing comprehensive norms on August 10, 2022, to regulate digital lending. These measures aimed to protect borrowers and curb fraudulent and unlawful activities within the digital lending sector. The guidelines were long-awaited by stakeholders and industry experts, addressing concerns that had arisen with the surge in instant loan providers, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evolution of Regulatory Measures
The RBI’s involvement in digital lending regulation dates back to January 2021 when it established a working group to study issues related to digital lending and propose regulations. In November 2021, the group suggested stricter norms, some of which have been accepted, while others are still under examination. The evolving regulatory landscape reflects the RBI’s commitment to adapting to the changing dynamics of the digital lending space, ensuring a secure and transparent environment for borrowers.