The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said it has issued an order asking Google to immediately delete Swiftcash, Easynaira, and 16 other loan apps from the Play store.
The Commission in a statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, said it just discovered that the apps have been operating on the Google Play store without regulatory approval or in violation of the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending.
Other apps to be removed from the Google platform include Getloan, Joy Cash-Loan, Camelloan, Cashlawn, Nairaloan, Eaglecash, Moneytreefinance Made Easy, Luckyloan and Cashme. The removal order also affects Crediting, Swiftkash, Hen Credit loan, Nut loan, Cash door, Cashpal, and Nairaeasy gist loan.
Working with Google
Irukera said the Commission would continue to engage with Google to clarify how and why apps that have not received relevant regulatory approvals are available on Google’s platform (Playstore).
“Under the Guidelines, only DMLs that have been subjected to regulatory scrutiny and compliance evidenced by written approval from the Commission are allowed on Playstore. The Commission notes that some DMLs have resorted to the use of Android Package Kits (APK) file formats to reach consumers outside of the Google Play store.
“This appears to be a device by some of these DMLs to evade or avoid regulatory compliance,” he said.
Irukera added that compliance with the Guidelines is mandatory for all DMLs regardless of whether they intend to be placed on Playstore, operate by APK file formats, or any other means for that matter. According to him, failure to comply with the Guidelines is a violation of law and renders any such operation illegal.
Revalidation of registration
Meanwhile, the FCCPC boss said all approved digital lenders will now have to revalidate their registration by resubmitting their information to the Commission.
Recall that Nairmetrics had earlier reported that the Commission had deleted the list of the over 180 registered DMLs from its website, saying the list was undergoing clean-up.
“DMLS operating by any means or on any platforms whatsoever are hereby required to provide evidence of compliance with the Guidelines within five (5) days from the date of this Release. Also, all existing and approved DMLS providing digital lending services through APK file formats in addition to Playstore, are required to provide evidence that such APK operations are in compliance with the law.
“All previously approved DMLs or otherwise must revalidate the information provided to the Commission by filling DL Form 01 and resubmit the same,” the Commission said in the statement released on Wednesday.
The need for revalidation of registration by the DMLs may not be unconnected with the recent discovery that some of the approved lenders are also engaging in illegal practices of harassing and defaming their customers to recover their debt.