Loan app defies FG, nine days after Google Play directive

A LOAN app, SoftPay, has remained on Play Store eight days after the Federal Government asked Google to remove four loan apps from its app store.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera, had, in a statement released on August 18, 2022, asked Google to remove four apps – namely Maxi Credit, Here4U, ChaCha and SoftPay – from its play store app.

According to Irukera, some of the loan apps had resorted to unethical, obnoxious, and unscrupulously exploitative practices in the industry.


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He added that some of the investigated apps had devised methods to leverage technology and other financial services alternatives to circumvent account freezing and app suspension orders.

The statement said, “The Commission has also today entered further Orders that will disable or diminish violators’ ability to devise circumvention efforts or alternative mechanisms to circumvent the objective of the investigation and protection of citizens.

“Particularly, the Commission has entered further Orders to Google Play Store to draw down the following apps, which were discovered to be created and operating as a circumvention of existing investigative interventions: Maxi Credit, Here4U, ChaCha, and SoftPay.”

Checks by The ICIR by 8:16am yesteriday (timestamp provided) showed that only SoftPay was still on Google Playstore when this report was being filed

SoftPay Loan app
SoftPay defies FG, eight days after Google Play directive. Credit: Joseph Olaoluwa/The ICIR

The Commission also directed all operating payment systems, including Flutterwave, Opay, Paystack and Monify, to immediately desist from providing payment or transaction services to lenders under investigation, or not otherwise operating with applicable regulatory approvals.

It also asked telecommunications providers to desist from providing the technology to host the loan apps.

The Commission also singled out SokoLoan as the most prolific actor in violating consumer privacy, fair lending terms, and ethical loan repayment/recovery practices.

Babatunde Irukera
The Director-General of the Commission, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera.

Several respondents who commented on the Federal Government’s directive on The ICIR‘s website asked the government to also investigate Lcredit, DOCREDIT, Cocolaon, Nairaplus and xCredit.

An anonymous commenter said, “Lcredit almost push me to committing suicide.”

Atinuke said, “Lcredit loan app too should be part of loan Apps that ought to be banned. They are not ready to comply with Nigeria’s cyber law.”






     

     

    A researcher and co-founder at Tech Hive Advisory, Ridwan Oloyede, described the space of digital lending “a complete mess” as loan sharks had succeeded in blackmailing people from low-income households.

    Oloyede said, “If we dabble into digital lending, that is a mess completely. Yes, there are responsible lenders, I have to say that. Last year, we put out a report where we looked at over 23 of them across data protection, cyber security and consumer protection. Today, a greater number of us receive messages from these loan sharks that someone is dead because someone borrowed money. Other times, they send you a message that someone has stolen and the person is on the run, or that the person is a ritualist.”

    He said these apps utilised the social conditioning of words like ritualist and thief to change perceptions about an individual. He disclosed there was a concept known as ‘deceptive design’, which he said the loan apps used in manipulating user behaviour.

    A programmes officer at Global Rights, Moyosoreoluwa Oluwasegun, said the nation had failed to get its act together, “and that is the reason why these loan apps continue to operate with impunity.”

    Oluwasegun said, “The government announced a decision to delist some of the apps from Play Store, but what we find happening is that there are some loan apps that the government is unaware of. What we have now is that some of these loan apps reach out to you via Whatsapp due to gaining access to people’s information, baiting you to download the apps and borrow money.”

    He noted that the companies were targeting people at the bottom of the pyramid, whom he described as not having enough to live by.

    The ICIR made efforts to get SoftPay to comment on the matter by sending an email to their contact address designated on the app. They failed to respond after a 24-hour window.

    Experienced Business reporter seeking the truth and upholding justice. Covered capital markets, aviation, maritime, road and rail, as well as economy. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @theminentmuyiwa and on Instagram @Hollumuyiwah.

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    2 COMMENTS

    1. Please how I wish the Federal Government can shut down DIDICASH. These loan sharks are terrible. I collected loan of 10k from DIDICASH (Playstore) on the due date by 8am the agent called me to pay before 10am I told him I’m already in the office that he should give me till 12pm during the break I’ll pay through POS. He said j should leave my office by 10am or he’ll defame. I pleaded 12pm cos I know I can’t leave office when it’s not break time. By 11am, he has sent defamatory messages to all my contacts telling them I had HIV and ran away from the health center. It took me weeks to try to get over it. Pls federal Government close down DIDICASH. Thank u

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