The Nigerian 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 would provide respite for loan app users in Nigeria and other places where crude loan retrieval methods have become commonplace.
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.
The new policy follows Google’s recent announcement of updates to its Developer Programme Policy. This update mandates digital money lenders in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya to conform to regulatory rules or face removal from the Play Store by January 31.
Digital money lenders in Nigeria must adhere to and complete the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022, and obtain a verifiable approval letter from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to be allowed on the Play Store in Nigeria.
The Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, commended Google’s institutionalization of the regulatory policy, stating that it was a welcome development and consistent with the commission’s position as a regulator.
The commission recently approved 173 digital lending applications to operate in the country, with 119 of them receiving full approval and 54 receiving conditional approval.
Loan apps in Nigeria have been known to harass Nigerians by sending defaming messages to their contacts and exposing confidential data leaks.
While 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.
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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