The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has ordered Google to deactivate 18 more loan apps/digital lending companies from its PlayStore. This was disclosed in a statement  by Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera.

The commission had on July 20, 2023 asked Google to remove some digital money lenders for invading customers’ privacy in the course of loan recovery. FCCPC has added 18 additional companies to its prohibited list.

“In addition, the Commission entered an order to Google LLC (Google) to remove the same from its Playstore and prohibited payment gateways or services from providing or continuing services to the affected businesses,” Irukera said.

“The Commission, as part of its continuing investigation and audit, has identified additional apps operating on the Google PlayStore without regulatory approval or violating the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (Guidelines).”

FCCPC, Irukera said, has entered a further order requiring Google to immediately remove, and withdraw the following apps: Getloan, Joy Cash-Loan Up to 1,000,000, Camelloan, Cashlawn, Nairaloan and Eaglecash.

The other apps to be closed are Moneytreefinance Made Easy, Luckyloan Personal Loan, Cashme, Easynaira, Swiftcash, Crediting, Swiftkash, Hen Credit loan, Nut loan, Cash door, Cashpal and Nairaeasy gist loan.

Irukera said that the Commission will continue engaging Google to clarify how and why apps that have not received relevant regulatory approvals are available on Google’s platform (Play store).

Under the Guidelines, Irukera said only DMLs that have been subjected to regulatory scrutiny and compliance evidenced by written approval from the Commission are allowed on Playstore.

He revealed that some DMLs have resorted to the use of Android Package Kits (APK) file formats to reach consumers outside of the Google Playstore. This appears to be a device by some of these DMLs to evade or avoid regulatory compliance.

“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,” Irukera said.

He warned that failure to comply with the guidelines is a violation of law, and renders any such operation illegal.

Irukera said that 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 the press 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.

“Furthermore, all previously approved DMLs or otherwise must revalidate the information provided to the Commission by filling DL Form 001 and resubmit same to: lenderstaskforce + fccec.sov.n .

“DMLs have also been reminded that infraction or infringements may lead to permanent delisting and prohibition, as well as law enforcement action, including prosecution.”

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