THE Federal Government, in conjunction with Google, has prohibited loan apps from accessing contacts and images of their customers.
In a chat with The ICIR on Monday, April 10, the sokesperson of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Ondaje Ijagwu, said the Federal Government is putting measure in place to enforce the latest policy by Google.
He said the action was consistent with the Nigerian authorities’ move to curtail the invasion of customers’ privacy by loan app firms.
According to Ijagwu, the FCCPC had recently taken significant decisions aimed at tackling the violation of customers’ privacy by loan apps. Notably, the Commission recently registered 170 loan apps out of over 200 operating in the country.
“Yes, it is in conjunction with Google. It was after we finished registering some loan apps.
“Google came up with a policy, but before then, we have been trying to curb the excesses of loan apps, so after releasing the list of registered apps last week and the Google policy came into existence by May 31, loan apps will no longer be able to access contacts and images of their customers,” Ijagwu added.
Also speaking on Arise TV on Wednesday, April 5, the chairman of FCCPC, Tunde Irukera, said the Commission’s recent registration drive will protect Nigerians’ privacy.
He said the Commission want to restrain what kind of information loan apps have from people’s phones and what they can do with that information.
“With respect to making contact with people on the contact list, and their loan recovery practices; the kind of language and the times they call, what kind of things they say,” Irukera stated.
This is coming after Google introduced a policy that mandates loan app operators to register with the FCCPC and respect the privacy of their customers.
In order to curb the use of shaming strategy and other unwholesome practices by loan apps, Google wants to restrict apps that offer loans to individuals from accessing private user information such as images, videos and contacts.
Google had established a policy to remove illegal loan apps from the Play Store in Nigeria, effective January 31, 2023.
The updated Google policy guidelines outline the requirements for lending apps in Nigeria, Kenya, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
According to the policy, all lending apps must obtain a licence from Google in order to function in the Play Store. Google announced this in an official post.
“Policy preview (effective May 31, 2023): This article previews changes included in our April 2023 policy updates.
“We are updating our personal loans policy to state that apps aiming to provide or facilitate personal loans may not access user contacts or photos.
“We are introducing additional requirements for personal loan apps targeting users in Pakistan. Personal loan apps in Pakistan must submit country-specific licensing documentation to prove their ability to provide or facilitate personal loans,” the post read.
This new policy comes after the firm announced updates to its Developer Programme Policy, mandating digital money lenders in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya to conform to regulatory rules or be taken down by January 31.
According to the firm, only digital money lenders that have adhered to and completed the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (as may be amended from time to time) by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and obtained a verifiable approval letter from the FCCPC will be allowed on Play Store in Nigeria.
Online loan fintech companies sometimes send WhatsApp and text messages to every contact on their customer’s phones, claiming they are debtors and fraudsters.
Sometimes they use threatening messages like, “Pay our money, or we shall report you to all your contacts”,” Last warning: Pay up, or we lock you up,” ‘You have nowhere to run to; we are monitoring you,” Etc.
The FCCPC recently announced that it had authorised 173 applications for digital lending nationwide. 54 of these received provisional permits, while 119 received complete approvals. This action was required as a result of loan apps bullying Nigerians by sending offensive texts to their connections.
The “Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending 2022” aims to regulate the digital lending industry and create registration and approval requirements for businesses wishing to operate loan appsLoa.
Nigerians from all walks of life have continued to patronise loan apps despite their unconventional ways of recovering their money.
These loan apps act as platforms where you can get quick loans with no collateral other than providing a bank verification number (BVN) and a request to allow pictures and contacts on a potential customer’s phone.
Previous investigations by The ICIR show how illicit lending applications disobey Nigeria’s internet laws, humiliate borrowers for not repaying loans on time, and trap customers in debt.
A reporter with the ICIR
A Journalist with a niche for quality and a promoter of good governance
I borrowed from loan apps and i have defaulted,my heart keep pounding. Maybe I should report myself to the police station Cox i can’t repay on time
Omo na them sabi, everyone know say country hard, but for these loaners they’re demons. God forbid bad thing. Like this eh, I no dey pay shishii 😒😏.them think say them dey wise. Rubbish people😂😋.if you are still worried about them or what they will do to you if you’re owing them, sorry oooo 😂🤣na u sabi, that’s to your own detriment. Do not mind whatever messages or threats they send to you on daily basis. Most of those loaners are fast killers, crooks, life hunters and real time scammers. Like this eh……. Am owing about 8 of them, but I no dey pay shishii 😒 it’s over 6 months now since overdue and none of them have been able to call or send messages to my contacts and post my pictures anywhere. They are even tired of calling me😌😏.Dem dey crase. If you wish to know how to deny them access and how to clear your contacts and data from their server send me a DM on WhatsApp @09151977310. But if you’re one of their agents and you near my DM, I pray make thunder no fire you and your smartphone shaa 😏. Nonsense people.