By Temitayo Jaiyeola
The Federal Government through the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has given digital money lenders five days to prove they are operating within its set guidelines.
It also asked Google to remove 18 digital lenders from Playstore for violations of its guidelines. According to the FCCPC, compliance with its guidelines was now mandatory, and failure to do so was a violation of the law.
According to the commission, the 18 digital money lenders that it delisted, and asked Google to delete, were either operating without regulatory approval or in violation of the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (Guidelines).
It noted that only digital money lenders that had regulatory scrutiny and compliance evidenced by written approval from it were allowed on Playstore
On July 20, 2023, the FCCPC delisted two loan apps, Getloan and Camelloan, from Google Play Store for harassing Nigerians.
At the time, the FCCPC said, “In the course of the commission’s continuing investigation and tracking of these illegally operating digital money lenders, the commission has discovered duplicity by at least two otherwise legally registered digital money lenders on the commission’s approval list.”
On Wednesday, the FCCPC further delisted 16 more loan firms and asked Google to delete them too.
The Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera, stated this in a statement.
He stated digital money lenders operating on Playstore or through any other format must comply with its guidelines.
Listing the deleted apps, the FCCPC said, “Accordingly, the commission has entered a further order requiring Google to immediately remove, withdraw, or drawdown the following apps:
“Getloan, Joy Cash-Loan Up to 1,000,000, Camelloan, Cashlawn, Nairaloan, Eaglecash, Moneytreefinance Made Easy, Luckyloan Personal Loan, Cashme, Easynaira, Swiftcas, Crediting, Swiftkash, Hen Credit loan, Nut loan, Cash door, Cashpal, and Nairaeasy gist loan.”
It noted that some digital money lenders were relying on Android Package Kits file formats to reach consumers outside of Google Playstore, to evade or avoid regulatory compliance.
It affirmed that compliance with its guidelines was mandatory for all digital money lenders, regardless of whether they intended to be placed on Playstore, operate by APK file formats, or any other means.
Commenting on a move to sanction more erring apps, Irukera stated, “Compliance with the guidelines is mandatory for all DMLs regardless of whether they intend to be placed on Playstore, operate by APK file formats or any other means for that matter. Failure to comply with the Guidelines is a violation of law and renders any such operation illegal.
“Digital Money Lenders operating by any means or on any platforms whatsoever are hereby required to provide evidence of compliance with the guidelines within five days from the date of this release.
“Also, all existing and approved DMLs providing digital lending services through APK file formats in addition to Playstore, are required to provide evidence that such APK operations are in compliance with the law.”
He noted that all previously approved digital money lenders or otherwise, must revalidate their information with the commission.
Infractions or infringements of its guidelines, he added, may lead to permanent delisting and prohibition, as well as law enforcement action, including prosecution.