Google has issued a new policy guideline requiring all loan apps on the Play Store to present all licensing documents for the market in which they operate.
With this, loan apps in Nigeria must now provide an approval document from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) or risk being removed from the platform effective from January 31, 2023.
Specifically, the new Google policy guidelines outline requirements for loan apps in Nigeria, Kenya, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. These countries are known to be the operational base of unlicensed loan apps.
Google says the policy applies to apps that offer loans directly and those that connect consumers with third-party lenders.
It adds that all new and existing apps will receive a grace period of at least 30 days from November 16, 2022, to comply with the changes, while the policy becomes effective January 31, 2023.
For loan apps operating in Nigeria, Google said:
- “Digital Money Lenders (DML) must adhere to and complete 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 (FCCPC) of Nigeria and obtain a verifiable approval letter from the FCCPC.
- “You must, upon Google Play’s request, provide additional information or documents relating to your compliance with the applicable regulatory and licensing requirements.”
Recall that the FCCPC has in recent times clamped down on unlicensed loan apps in the country, otherwise referred to as loan sharks due to their nefarious activities. The Commission had recently asked Google to remove 4 loan apps being used for unethical practices from the Play Store. The apps included Maxi Credit, Here4U, ChaCha, and SoftPay.
The Commission said its investigations revealed that the listed apps are owned by other popular apps that are under investigation for unethical practices and breach of consumer privacy. Specifically, it mentioned Soko Loan as the company behind several other apps being used to circumvent the efforts of the Commission.
However, despite the efforts of the FCCPC, several other unlicensed loan apps are emerging by the day on the app store even as many Nigerians continue to fall victim to their antics. Although some of the apps are operating outside the app store, the new Google policy is expected to curb access to them via the platform.