Chinese Innovation: Nude Photo Loan Platform Adds Uber-Style Debt Collectors Feature

from the uberizing-everything-everywhere dept

Back in June, Western media picked up on a sordid tale involving the Chinese company Jiedaibao, a platform which facilitates loans between individual lenders and borrowers. Because of the private nature of the deals, loan sharks came up with a new twist on securing collateral for the money they lend out at exorbitant rates, described here by China.org.cn:

They often ask female students to pose naked with their ID and use these photos as collateral in their practice. If a student defaults on the loan, the loaners will threaten to show the nude photos to her family and friends.

In exchange, the students who agree to send nude photos can have a higher loan amount, ranging from 2 to five times as much. However, the loan interest rate can be as high as 30 percent a week.
Being able to borrow even more money at these ruinous interest rates just means the women get into deeper trouble even faster. When criticized for allowing this sexual and economic exploitation, Jiedaibao initially said:
The usury and nude collateral practices are part of a private trade deal between users. As a result, the company cannot interfere, and assert that users have to shoulder these risks by themselves. However, if these scenarios get worse, they urge users to contact the police.
Perhaps realizing that this didn't really sound too good, the company later tweaked its response slightly, as the Guardian reported:
A spokesman for Jiedaibao condemned the "naked loans" and said the company would work with the police on any investigation of such practices. "This kind of naked loan is actually taking advantage of the online platform to operate an illegal usurious offline business," they said.
Despite that (feeble) condemnation, and the outrage this modern-day usury provoked in China, the abuse seems to have continued. Last month, China.org.cn published another article on the topic, where it noted that some women have been been coerced into prostitution in an attempt to pay off the money they owe to unscrupulous lenders. According to a more recent story in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Jiedaibao's size -- it has more than 128 million users with a cumulative turnover of about $12 billion -- and lack control over the private deals made using its platform have led to the development of a serious problem:
Without proper credit risk assessments, many of the loans have soured, raising demand for debt collectors. Online chat groups have sprung up offering advice on recovering the money. Tips include repeated calls to debtors, calling debtors' relatives and paying "beggars" to protest near a debtor's home.
To address this issue, Jiedaibao has come up with a rather remarkable new feature for its platform:
Users of its app can apply to recover debts owed through the platform by uploading their ID card number and a photo.

After a "verification" process of about a week, successful applicants gain access to overdue borrowers' phone numbers, addresses and even ID numbers, with commissions of up to 40 per cent of the original loan for recovering the outstanding amounts.
Some may applaud Jiedaibao's idea of creating an Uber-like crowd of private debt collectors, but the scope for abuse is clear. And those suddenly finding themselves on the receiving end of these amateur debt collectors are unlikely to be so enthusiastic about Jiedaibao's innovative approach.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: china, debt collection, debt collectors, gig economy, nude photos
Companies: jiedaibao


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 4:43am

    Is that Trump University?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 5:38am

    The slightly earlier company - 'Loans for DickPiks inc.' sadly went out of business..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 6:29am

    I'm wondering if these loan sharks got the idea by reading US news articles about the Revenge Porn sites. Hey, if the brash Americans can get people to pay up by holding nudes of them, more conservative cultures could definitely use it with ease, right?

    *#&!-ers taking advantage of people in bad situations... always makes me mad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 6:34am

    > The slightly earlier company - 'Loans for DickPiks inc.' sadly went out of business..

    I think Anthony Weiner flooded the market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: HACKER FOR HIRE.

    Seriously?

    I could have been a fucking Crime Lord then! WTF was I thinking getting a white collar job and enjoying life like a civil fucking human being?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:03am

    Re: HACKER FOR HIRE.

    How is he with removing nude photos that a certain chinese loan shark may or may not be holding of me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:19am

    Khomeini had a good idea...

    I was no fan of Khomeini's Islamic revolution, but his capital charge "offense against God" seems tailor-made for this sort of business practice. Call it "feel-good legislation"...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 7:22am

    Re: HACKER FOR HIRE.

    My very good friend, Beth Murphy, just sent me an email with directions to the secret troll farm. The map is contained in a microdot ... (hint, it's the one in the middle). She also, breathlessly exclaimed that they just got on a load of toads, and as a special offer are giving out free warts to new arrivals. Hurry!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 8:39am

    I'll believe it when I see it

    Or, as more commonly expressed on the Internet - "pics or it didn't happen."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 2 Nov 2016 @ 10:52am

    Of course, these "amateur debt collectors" just handed over
    their government-issue ident through a central repository
    [Jiedaibao] in relation to an ongoing criminal enterprise.

    Naturally Jiedaibao is required to retain records because "terrorism". ‌ ‌ ;]

    I'm sure the chinese government will find this handy when
    party executives decide it's time to generate some positive
    press for themselves and the party.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gabriel (profile), 3 Nov 2016 @ 6:23am

    On the other hand, maybe if people didn't get themselves into stupid financial crises, and then sign up for loans with horrible terms, and then fail to pay those loans back as agreed, this would be less of a problem.

    Yes, sometimes genuine misfortune leads people into lesser of two evils situations, but I suspect the vast majority of these cases are simply irresponsible spending, bad decision making, and the cascading consequences thereof.

    That doesn't mean that the lenders aren't horrible human beings, but unless someone was holding a gun to a head while brandishing a loan contract, the borrowers made the choice to do business with those horrible human beings.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 8 Nov 2016 @ 2:28am

      Re:

      Actually you'll probably find that these people are in situations requiring money fast, such as being behind with their rent if their jobs don't pay enough. If there aren't enough better-paying jobs around it doesn't matter how well you upskill, you haven't got the money now.

      Moving costs, so moving to where the jobs are isn't that easy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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