The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has barred all financial technology companies (FinTechs) from providing payment or transaction services to online money lenders under its investigation.
The identified FinTechs such as Flutterwave, Opay, Paystack and Monify were said to be operating payment systems and providing services to such online lenders under its investigation or not operating with applicable regulatory approvals.
This is coming several months after the commission had ordered Google and Apple to enforce the withdrawal of these money lending applications from their stores where evidence of inappropriate conduct or use of the application in violation of the rights of consumers has been established.
This was made known by the Executive Chairman of FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, during a chat with journalists while on an enforcement exercise on some of the digital money lenders on Thursday in Lagos.
Irukera said the commission also ordered telecommunication and technology companies which include Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to stop providing server, hosting or other key services such as connectivity to such disclosed or known lenders.
Babatunde Irukera said, “The information available to the commission demonstrates that Soko Lending appears to be the most consequential digital money lender with multiple apps and brand names.
“It is covering a significant share of the digital or online lending market, and one of the most prolific actors in violating consumer privacy, fair lending terms and ethical loan repayment/recovery practices.
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“Prior to this operation, the commission had previously, on March 11, 2022 carried out a similar enforcement action with respect to multiple lenders; which action and continuing investigation has reduced previously high and escalating unethical, obnoxious and unscrupulously exploitative practices in the industry.’’
The FCCPC boss noted that some of these online lenders who had been subject of investigation had devised methods to leverage on technology and other financial services alternatives to circumvent account freezing and app suspension Orders.
He said, “With the operations today, the commission expects appreciable additional reduction in these unacceptable practices.
“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.’’
Going further, he said the Order requires permission to proceed in digital lending and provides a limited moratorium period for existing businesses to comply in order to continue in digital lending.
Irukera added, “The guidelines also mandate different 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.
“The commission expresses its gratitude to victims and citizens who have provided information or contributed to the investigation; and welcomes the continuing engagement that provides the relevant information or intelligence through the already established and publicised channels.’’