On Wednesday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) issued a statement signed by its CEO, Babatunde Irukera, requesting Google to delete 18 digital money lending apps from the Play Store. The action was taken due to the violation of registration rules by these apps.
The named digital money lending companies (DMLs) include Getloan, Camelloan, Cashlawn, Nairaloan, Eaglecash, Moneytreefinance Made Easy, Luckyloan Personal Loan, and Joy Cash-Loan Up to 1,000,000, among others. The FCCPC stated that these companies, although registered, must provide proof of compliance with the limited interim regulatory/registration framework and guidelines for digital lending introduced in 2022, to continue their operations.
The consumer protection commission has given the DMLs five days to submit the required evidence of compliance. Failure to do so would result in the cessation of their operations.
The FCCPC had previously updated its list of registered and approved DMLs on July 20, 2023, to prevent illegal practices in the sector. This action came after reports of prohibited loan recovery methods and practices by some operators.
In response to the non-compliance, the FCCPC directed Google to remove the mentioned apps from the Play Store and prohibited payment gateways or services from supporting these businesses. The commission also revealed that it has identified other apps on the Google Play Store operating without regulatory approval or in violation of the guidelines.
To ensure further compliance, the FCCPC urged Google to clarify how unapproved apps are available on its platform. According to the guidelines, only DMLs that have received written approval from the commission are allowed on the Play Store.
The FCCPC highlighted that some DMLs have resorted to using Android package kits (APK) file formats to reach consumers outside of Google’s Play Store, potentially evading or avoiding regulatory compliance. The commission asserted that compliance with the guidelines is mandatory for all DMLs, irrespective of whether they operate through APK file formats or other means.
Any DML found operating without compliance will face legal consequences, and companies refusing to adhere to the FCCPC’s directive will be permanently delisted and subjected to law enforcement actions, including prosecution.
In light of this development, the FCCPC encouraged all existing and approved DMLs operating through APK file formats alongside the Play Store to provide evidence of compliance with the guidelines. Additionally, all previously approved DMLs must revalidate the information provided to the commission by submitting DL form 001 to email@example.com.
The FCCPC is determined to enforce regulatory compliance in the digital money lending sector to protect consumers from potential risks and ensure fair and transparent practices within the industry.