Banks and credit lending agencies have always had their fair share of bad public coverage, thanks to what happens if people default on their loans. Google isn’t seeking to help this with its latest app which is aimed at locking the devices of users who default on their smartphone financing payments.
Named as Device Lock Controller; the app uses an API known as “DeviceAdminService” to disable parts of your device with critical functionality. The only remaining functions after such a lockdown are the ability to make emergency and regular calls, make backups, restore the phone and access the settings of the device.
In terms of its effectiveness, this would allow companies such as Apple, Samsung, Verizon & many more who offer smartphones in monthly installment plans to take immediate action in case of the failure of a user to make payment. Talking about how it would be implemented, XDA Developers state,
Presumably, a credit provider, such as a bank or other financial institution, can preload Google’s Device Lock Controller app before loaning a device to their customers, and if that customer is unable to make a payment, they can remotely lock them out of their phone.
However, the app did not appear on the Play Store when searched for nor in the list of apps developed by Google. To this, the tech giant has responded with a clarification stating that it developed the app for a Kenyan telecom named Safaricom who rolled out a phone financing plan named “Lipa Mdogo Mdogo” which translates to “Pay Bit by Bit.”
If a user of the plan does not pay their amount within 4 due days, their phone is getting locked. In addition to this, Google has stated that the app to start with should not have been available to see for US Play Store users and so it would be taken down here.
To conclude, while the app would be very effective as a smartphone is a strong need for every user today, it seems harsh to implement something like this – the modern version of kicking people out of their homes mercilessly.
This becomes even more realizable once you think about how not everyone could afford even the essentials of life and a smartphone purchased on a monthly plan may be their ticket toward upward mobilization.