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Slice issues clarification on what led Google to deem its app harmful

Slice issues clarification on what led Google to deem its app harmful
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
30 Jun, 2022
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After being accused of spying on users, Slice said that the warning issued by Google Play was momentary and was triggered when the fintect company was updating the unified payments interface (UPI) phone and SMS permissions for waitlisted users. “The team missed updating the UPI use case on the permission screen,” Slice said in a statement. 

On June 23, Google Play reportedly sent a notification to users who updated to the latest version 10.0.7.1 of the Slice app. Google allegedly called Slice a harmful app and accused it of trying to access personal data such as messages, photos, and call history. Google also urged users to uninstall it from their Android devices. 

According to Slice, the new version was released to sync phone and SMS permissions to verify and match the SIM of users on the waitlist in compliance with UPI guidelines. 

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Slice maintained that the permission screen is in the app from the beginning, and user consent is taken to proceed. However, the "lack of specifications regarding the prominent disclosures led to the momentary alert" from Google Play Protect. 

Further, Slice said that the issue was resolved within four hours after it was notified and all users were instructed to reinstall the app or update to a newer version 10.0.7.3. Google Play Store has also removed the alert after reviewing the updated information on the permission screen. 

Slice claims it has close to 10 million waitlisted customers on its platform. In May, Slice launched the option to create a UPI account on the app and activate credit for UPI users just like it does for its credit card users. 

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Slice offers payment cards with a pre-approved credit line, which can be used for paying bills, shopping, and subscriptions. Slice’s business model is also likely to be impacted by a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notification, issued on June 21, which bars non-banking prepaid payment instrument issuers (PPI) from loading credit lines. 

“The PPI-MD does not permit loading of PPIs from credit lines. Such practice, if followed, should be stopped immediately. Any non-compliance in this regard may attract penal action under provisions contained in the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007,” RBI said in a notification. 

Founded in 2016, Slice acquired the coveted unicorn status last November after raising $220 million from Tiger Global, Insight partners, and Advent. Its app is popular among students and young professionals and has over 10 million downloads on Google Play Store. 

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