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Business News of Friday, 19 August 2022

Source: www.premiumtimesng.com

Nigeria's consumer protection agency orders Google to remove money lending companies from app store

The Director General of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera The Director General of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera

The Federal Competition and Consumer Agency has ordered Google Play Store to pull down four money lending companies for “escalating unethical, obnoxious and unscrupulously exploitative practices in the industry.”

The affected money lending firms are Maxi Credit, ChaCha, Here4U and SoftPay, a statement signed by Babatunde Irukera, the commission’s Chief Executive Officer said.

Mr Irukera gave the order during an enforcement operation in Ikeja area of Lagos on Thursday.

He had in March led a similar operation to tackle “possible violation” of consumer rights where at least seven loan companies including Soko Loan were raided.

The commission’s boss said that some lending companies including Soko Loan who have been subject of investigation “have devised methods to leverage on technology and other financial services alternatives to circumvent account freezing and app suspension orders.

“With the operations today, the Commission expects appreciable additional reduction in these unacceptable practices.”

Directives on money lending services

“The Commission has entered further orders to Google Play Store to draw down the following (money lending) apps which were discovered to be created and operating as a circumvention of existing investigative interventions; Maxi Credit, Here4U, ChaCha and SoftPay,” the statement reads.

“For apps not on the Play Store, the Commission continues to trace what platforms they are hosted on in order to disable them; the Commission invites any information from the public in this regard.”

The Commission also ordered all operating payment systems including Flutterwave, Opay, Paystack and Monify to immediately desist from providing payment or transaction services to money lending firms under investigation or sought the commission’s approvals.

“The Commission has also ordered telecommunication/ technology companies (including Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)) to cease and desist providing server/hosting or other key services such as connectivity to disclosed or known lenders who are targets/subjects of investigation or otherwise operating without regulatory approval,” the statement reads.

Mr Irukera said that a regulatory framework to promote fair, “transparent and mutually beneficial alternative lending opportunities apart from traditional lending to consumers” is now available.

“It requires permission to proceed in digital lending; it provides a limited moratorium period for existing businesses to comply in order to continue in digital lending,” he explained.

“The Guidelines also mandate different (money lending) service providers in the relevant ecosystem (such as banks, access/download platforms or stores, technology providers and payment systems) to require regulatory approval before providing services.”