ASIC gets Google's help to monitor payday lenders

ASIC to boost online surveillance of payday loans sector

Representatives of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission have said that the financial watchdog will boost the use of analytics software to monitor the online activities of payday lenders in order to crack down on predatory practices.

"We are looking... at surveillance and enforcement and significant action against payday lenders, both in their advertising and their conduct," ASIC's chairperson Greg Medcraft told a Senate Estimates hearing today.

In the payday loan sector ASIC has been focusing on responsible lending, so-called avoidance models designed to skirt lending restrictions, and misleading advertising and fees, ASIC's Peter Kell said.

The sector is a "major focus area" for ASIC, Kell said.

"This will be a major campaign across surveillance, enforcement, education and hopefully law reform," Medcraft said.

Medcraft said that with the help of Google, ASIC is about to start using analytics software to better monitor the sector.

"We've been working with Google and we have Google on the advisory board of ASIC," Medcraft said.

The ASIC chairperson also said the organisation was investing in social media analytics software from Microsoft to help with online surveillance. "So whether you do it physical[ly] or you do it online we will watch and we will take action," Medcraft said.

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