OPera said in a statement that the report contains numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misleading conclusions and interpretations.
“We are aware of and has carefully reviewed the report published by the short seller on January 16, 2020.
“The Company believes that the report contains numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misleading conclusions and interpretations regarding the business of and events relating to the Company.
“The Company has recently launched and scaled multiple new businesses and has continued to post strong financial results, and intends to continue leveraging its well-known brand and large user base of more than 350 million users for additional growth.
“The Company also remains committed to maintaining high standards of corporate governance and constantly evolving our products, practices and governance.”
The report had claimed that Opera is running four Android apps aimed at India, Kenya and Nigeria (CashBean, OKash, OPay and OPesa) that appear to be in direct violation of Google Play Store policies forbidding predatory loans and deceptive descriptions.
According to the report, the apps would claim to offer maximum annual percentage rate (APR) of 33 per cent or less, but the actual rates were much higher, climbing to 438 per cent in the case of OPesa.
And while they publicly offered reasonable loan terms of 91 to 365 days, the real length was no more than 29 days (for OKash) and more often 15 days — well under Google’s 60-day minimum.
The conditions only got worse for borrowers who missed their payments. Falling short by just a day could raise the APR as high as 876 per cent.
Also, the apps reportedly scraped phone contacts to harass family, friends and others with calls and texts in hopes this would pressure customers into paying up. These same notices often threatened legal action. And the consequences aren’t trivial.