Despite trying to lure users away from Chrome and towards its own browser, Opera has not been having such a good past couple of years. If this report is to be believed, it looks like they’ve been trying to find a different revenue stream. According to a report published by the Hindenburg Research, they are creating so-called “predatory loan apps” that are getting interest rates of up to 876% on their customers. But the company has denied these allegations and say that the report has numerous errors and unsubstantiated statements.”
Android Police says the report identifies four apps run by Opera that are offering short-term lending in Africa and Asia: OKash, OPesa, CashBean, and OPay. The apps are advertising different loan rates than what they’re actually giving. For example, if the app description says the loan terms are from 91-365 days, the email response says it will be 15-29 days which is lower than Google’s enforced standards of 60-day minimum.
The report is actually backed up by reviews in the Google Play Store, with some users saying that they receive harassing phone calls and text messages when they’re late with their payments. The Hindenburg Research also said that Opera’s investor money is being redirected to other people and companies, including Opera’s Chairman and CEO. This has affected the company’s stocks, dropping from ~$9 to $7.15.
Opera says they have carefully reviewed the report and found it to have numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misleading conclusions and interpretations. They also specified that they have launched new businesses as they have posted strong financial results, which is contrary to what we’re seeing in the report and several other news items. “The Company also remains committed to maintaining high standards of corporate governance and constantly evolving our products, practices, and governance,” they posted in their investors’ site.
While you could always question the credibility of the report, the fact that people are also posting highly negative reviews on the loan apps is a red flag. Opera did not directly address the various facts stated in the report, which can also be highly susceptible to some. Let’s see if Google Play will take any action against the aforementioned apps.