Govt To Close Online Banks Harassing Debtors

Earlier this year, the FCCPC required loan apps to register with the commission. So far, the commission has granted full or conditional…..

By Happy Atingi

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has announced its intention to remove any loan applications that engage in harassing behavior towards customers, and it plans to request that Google permanently remove such apps from its app store. This action was taken in response to ongoing incidents of harassment and defamation by digital lenders towards Nigerians. It represents the latest measure implemented by the Federal Government to safeguard Nigerians from the harmful activities of these digital lenders.

Earlier this year, the FCCPC required loan apps to register with the commission. So far, the commission has granted full or conditional approval to 180 apps to operate in the country. Additionally, Google recently declared that loan apps would not be permitted on its app store unless they receive regulatory approval.

In April, Google announced that starting from May 31, 2023, loan apps on the Play Store would lose their ability to access users’ contacts or photos. However, despite these measures, loan apps have persisted in harassing customers.

Babatunde Irukera, the Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, affirmed that the commission is fully prepared to permanently shut down the operations of these apps.

He said, “We have read the stories. But we have to investigate to make sure that the evidence truly exists.

“The consequence of this, they know it, is that if any of these defamatory messages or harassments goes out again, they will be delisted, and we will ask Google to take them down permanently. But we can’t take that kind of step without knowing for sure because what we’ve found is that the loan apps that are still doing those things are not on Google.”

According to his explanation, numerous apps that engage in customer harassment adopt names similar to registered ones. He pointed out that the majority of complaints received regarding these issues indicate that these companies are not listed with the FCCPC or Google. Instead, they resort to utilizing channels such as WhatsApp, APK, and other less detectable methods to interact with consumers.

Irukera advised consumers to exclusively obtain loans from approved loan apps, as they are more accessible and subject to regulation and penalties.

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