The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said its investigations have revealed some of the registered and approved digital money lenders (DMLs), popularly known as loan apps, that are using the backdoor to continue their illegal practices.
The companies, according to the Commission, include Sycamore Integrated Solutions Limited and Purple Credit Limited.
The FCCPC said it has substantial evidence that these lenders that are part of the companies approved by the Commission and with their apps on the Google Play Store are engaging in the use of other links to attract borrowers in order to continue their illegal practices of defaming their customers.
The Commission’s findings further confirm Nairametrics’ report that some of the registered/approved loan apps have continued their practice of defaming and harassing their customers. FCCPC said it also noticed a resurgence in the occurrence of prohibited loan recovery methods and practices in the past weeks, which prompted its investigations.
Disclosing the Commission’s findings in a statement released on Thursday, the Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera said:
In the course of the Commission’s continuing investigation and tracking of these illegally operating DMLs, the Commission has discovered duplicity by at least two otherwise legally registered DMLs on the Commission’s approval list.
“The nature of the duplicity is that the DMLs having been approved and placed on the approved list and Playstore, as well as cleared for services by other financial services/institutions, as an alternate channel, and method of engaging in prohibited conduct, also engaged in the use of APK to attract borrowers to a process and practice that is illegal and unregulated.
“The companies or apps so far identified, and for which there is supporting evidence of this malfeasance are Sycamore Integrated Solutions Limited and Orange Loan and Purple Credit Limited.
“They are the owners of “Getloan” and “Cameloan” respectively, and occupy Nos. 1 and 65 on the Approved List of the Commission, which is available on the Commission’s website.”
Based on these findings, Irukera said the Commission has now permanently delisted the two companies along with their respective apps “Getloan” and “Cameloan”.
In addition, he said the Commission has entered an Order to Google Playstore and other payment and financial service providers, permanently prohibiting the provision of any services associated with digital lending to Sycamore Integrated Solutions Limited and Purple Credit Limited.
While noting that the revocation and action are permanent without option or opportunity of reconsideration, he said the same consequence would apply to all other violators as the Commission discovers them.
He added that the information and evidence available with respect to the two companies’ businesses would be transferred to law enforcement agencies and or any other relevant regulator(s).
Unapproved apps operating outside Play Store
Irukera also confirmed that many unregistered loan apps that have been deleted from the Google Play Store have also continued to operate outside the platform by using Android Package Kits (APK) file formats, which provide links directly to prospective customers.
“The Commission’s investigations and continuing surveillance demonstrate that the vast majority of the resurging infringements are not by otherwise approved/listed DMLs approved to be on Playstore and other financial services providers.
“The violating DMLs have resorted to the use of Android Package Kits (APK) file formats. The illegal DMLs provide links to consumers to visit unregistered websites using their Android devices/phones. In the course of that interaction, consumers’ private information that is otherwise protected and prohibited from access or download by DMLs or their apps is accessed and downloaded.
“This conduct is prohibited by sundry laws, particularly relevant data privacy protection instruments, and more specifically, the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework & Guidelines for Digital Lending 2020 of the Commission,” he said.
The FCCPC CEO advised Nigerians to exercise restraint and discretion in selecting DMLs and specifically recommended that consumers patronize only DMLs on the Commission’s approved list to diminish, if not eliminate being victims of illegal and prohibited lending and recovery practices.