Earlier this year, Google quietly published a “Device Lock Controller” app to the Play Store. It’s used by credit providers to curtail the functionality of a phone that’s being financed if payments are missed.
Basically, the app is designed to let creditors, banks, carriers (whoever you owe money to) limit function on the device if you fall behind on payments.
According to XDA, Kenya’s largest telco Safaricom has been using the service since July of this year to lock out users who opt for the ‘lipa mdogo mdogo‘ campaign and miss payments.
“We have partnered with Google to introduce a smartphone device financing plan dubbed Lipa Mdogo Mdogo. This service makes it possible for customers to purchase a smartphone via manageable daily installments of Kshs 20.” Safaricom explains in a statement.
In cases of missed payments, Safaricom locks the device in three stages:
There’s an ethical dilemma with the app. While lenders and providers want to make sure that payments will be made on financed devices, the idea of being completely monitored is daunting. However, Don’t buy it if you can’t pay for it.
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