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FG orders telcos, others to block access to online loan sharks

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THE Federal Government of Nigeria has directed payment system operators, (PSOs) and telecommunications companies to stop providing access to illegal digital money lenders, also known as loan sharks, in Nigeria.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumers Protection Commission (FCCPC) Babatunde Irukera disclosed this on Thursday in Lagos, when the Commission conducted enforcement actions against Soko Lending Limited.

Irekura said the FCCPC would work to protect citizens by limiting violators’ ability to bypass regulatory efforts.


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He said, “Soko Lending appears to be the most consequential digital money lender, with multiple apps and brand names covering a significant share of the digital/online lending market, and one of the most prolific actors in violating consumer privacy, fair lending terms, and ethical loan repayment/recovery practices.

“The Commission has also entered additional Orders that will disable or diminish violators’ ability to devise circumvention efforts or alternative mechanisms to circumvent the goal of the investigation and protection of citizens.

“In particular, the Commission has ordered all operating payment systems, including Flutterwave, Opay, Paystack, and Monify, to immediately cease and desist providing payment or transaction services to lenders under investigation or not otherwise operating in accordance with applicable regulatory approvals.”

Irukera added that the FCCPC has also ordered telecommunication/technology companies (including Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to stop providing server/hosting or other critical services such as connectivity to disclosed or known lenders who are targets/subjects of investigation or who are otherwise operating without regulatory approval.

“As the first and interim step to establishing a clear regulatory framework, the inter-agency Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force developed and mutually adopted a Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022,” he added.

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Esther Ilesanmi is an Online Media Personnel with The International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

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