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FG BARS LOAN APPS FROM ACCESSING CUSTOMERS’ PHOTOS, CONTACTS

The Federal government has announced that loan apps on the Play Store will no longer be able to access their users’ contacts or photos from May 31, 2023.

This policy is in line with the government’s recent efforts to prevent loan app firms from invading customers’ privacy.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission had recently registered 170 loan apps out of the 200 operating in Nigeria.

Google, in its April 2023 policy updates, stated that the new policy update would provide respite for loan app users in Nigeria and other places that have become accustomed to crude loan retrieval methods employed by a majority of loan apps.

The updated policy prohibits personal loan apps from accessing user contacts or photos. The policy also introduces additional requirements for personal loan apps targeting users in Pakistan, including the submission of country-specific licensing documentation to prove their ability to provide or facilitate personal loans.

This new policy is coming after the firm announced updates to its Developer Programme Policy, mandating digital money lenders in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya to conform to regulatory rules or be taken down by January 31.

According to the firm, only digital money lenders that have adhered to and completed the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (as may be amended from time to time) by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and obtain a verifiable approval letter from the FCCPC will be allowed on Play Store in Nigeria.

The Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, commended Google’s institutionalisation of the regulatory policy, stating that it is a welcome development and consistent with the commission’s position as a regulator.

The FCCPC recently stated that it has approved 173 digital lending applications to operate in the country. 119 of these got full approvals while 54 got conditional approvals. This move became necessary after loan apps started harassing Nigerians by sending defaming messages to their contacts, and more.

Although, Google’s policy states that it does not “allow apps that promote personal loans that require repayment in full in 60 days or less from the date the loan is issued,” many loan apps in the country do not adhere to it, exposing many Nigerians to confidential data leak.

The FCCPC’s Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending 2022 seeks to regulate the digital lending space and make registration and approval a prerequisite for companies seeking to operate in the space.

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