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FCCPC addresses loan apps on method of obtaining customers’ contact list

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THE Executive Vice-Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera has vowed to address the way loan apps obtain and download the phone contact list of customers.

Irukera who spoke in a Twitter space organised by The ICIR on how fintechs shame, and threaten customers over loan payments, stressed that the process was unlawful.

He said, “One of the key issues we are addressing is the application process that allows the apps download contacts. The telephone number is your own proprietary information.

“That is one of the issues that must be addressed. There is harassment, coercion, and threats in violation of the FCCPC act. The act prohibits the use of physical force, or unfair tactics in the conduct of loan recovery.”

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Also speaking at the event, the Head of compliance, Gabs Financial Services, Oyelowo Ayodeji said that his organisation vets customers before giving out loans to them.

“Loan disbursement isn’t the end game. It is the easiest because you can easily put up an app to give loans. The end game is the recovery of the loan. What is important is your business model for the recovery of loans. We don’t give out loans to everyone and we do our personal investigation before giving out loans to people. We have a specific target market to give out the loan.”

Going further, Ayodeji said that his organisation conducts checks to assert that the customer can pay back what he gets.

He also added that the firm signs a contract with the customer and employer of the customer to make sure loans are recovered.

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Last month, digital rights experts criticised the Nigerian Federal Government for allegedly failing to protect Nigerians from the activities of loan sharks.

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

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.

An ICIR report revealed that this act of shaming people publicly clearly violates Article 2.2 of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), which bans illegal data sharing with third parties without a legal basis.

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In the report, The ICIR reviewed the terms of service of some loan apps hosted on Google Play Store. These included NairaPlus, EasyCredit, TrueNaira, GoCash, CashLion, FairMoney and LCredit.

They all failed to disclose to users downloading the apps that their rights of access to users’ contact lists would be shared with third parties if they defaulted. This did not conform to Google Play Store’s policies.

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