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Why Apple and Google Dumped Over 300 Trading Apps From Their Online Stores

August 1, 2017, 10:53 PM UTC

There are now a lot fewer shady financial apps in Google and Apple’s online stores.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said Tuesday that the two technology giants removed over 330 financial trading apps from their app stores following a review.

The regulator discovered that unlicensed individuals were operating the apps, which focused on binary trading. In binary trading, people predict whether the price of a given option will go up or down in a short amount of time, and then buy or sell based on their predictions. According to the ASIC’s website, this form of high risk, speculative trading is relatively new to Australia.

After reviewing the apps, the regulator also discovered that the owners failed to disclose the risky nature of the trading practice and instead made it appear that people could get rich quickly by using their apps. Some of the apps contained marketing messages that bragged that people could “Earn up to 90% in less than an hour, in fact you can profit quickly as 60 seconds and profit as much as 620% via one trade.”

About 80% of the apps the regulator singled out did not warn of any risks. Some were “merely collecting personal information which could be used for high-pressure cold calling.”

The Australian regulator said it notified both Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL), which promptly scrubbed the apps from their online stores.

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“We were encouraged with the speed both entities removed the relevant apps identified by ASIC from their respective app stores,” the regulator said in a statement. “We also note that Apple recently changed its review guidelines to state that apps that facilitate binary options trading will not be permitted in its app store.”

Google and Apple spokespeople both declined to comment to Bloomberg News about the specifics of the ASIC review, but acknowledged that they routinely remove apps that violate their policies.