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Google to Ban Loan Apps From Accessing User Photos, Contacts

Google has rolled out a policy that will prevent apps that offer loans to individuals from gaining access to their photos, videos, and contacts in a bid to address predatory behaviour from some lenders.

The move is a bid to stop predatory loan apps from harassing and intimidating borrowers into paying outstanding debts, which often come with huge interest rates.

Nigerians have been on the end of this, with many of these loan sharks charging as high as 50 per cent to 80 per cent on returns with extremely strict repayment timeliness.

Failure to pay comes with several social consequences with practices including threats, manipulated obituaries, physical harassment, and haggling of family members applied by these finance loan sharks after debtors fail to repay their loans.

By accessing borrowers’ personal contacts and their personal images, debt collectors have messages and manipulated photos sent to friends and family of these debtors.

Google in a notice, said, “We’re updating our personal loans policy to state that apps aiming to provide or facilitate personal loans may not access user contacts or photos.”

This policy is expected to go into effect on May 31, and it is being rolled out in markets hardest hit by the practice, like India, Kenya, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

Google said it will also require “country-specific licensing documentation to prove their ability to provide or facilitate personal loans.”

This is coming some days after Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) gave approval for 173 digital lending applications to operate in the country.

Of these, 119 have full approvals, while the other 54 have conditional approvals.

The regulatory body released a Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending 2022 document to regulate the digital lending space and make registration and approval a prerequisite for companies seeking to operate in the sector.

Companies without approval will not be able to operate in the digital lending space.

The FCCPC released a statement in August 2022, outlining its efforts to create a clear regulatory framework for digital lending.

The commission stated that the “inter-agency Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force has developed and mutually adopted a Limited Interim Regulatory/ Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 as the first and interim step to establishing a clear regulatory framework.”


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