Reps to go after online loan companies

CITIZENS COMPASS- AFTER years of public outcry, the House of Representatives has announced plans to investigate the activities of illegal financial technology companies and mobile application lenders who threaten debtors for failing to repay loans.

At the plenary on Thursday, the House mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency; Financial Crimes; and Telecommunications to “investigate the alleged sharp practices and abuses by FinTech and online mobile digital loan apps and companies in Nigeria and report within four weeks.”

The resolution was based on the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member of the House, Ahmed Satomi, titled ‘Urgent Need to Investigate Sharp Practices by Unregulated Online Fintech Lending Companies and Abuse of Mobile Digital Loan Apps in Nigeria.’

Satomi decried the proliferation of online loan apps across Nigeria “by some fraudulent and unscrupulous profiteers affecting many low-income Nigerians, who are coerced to borrow and get trapped in the web of sham loan apps hosted on Google Play Store by individuals and companies to swindle the low-income earners.”

The lawmaker noted that the COVID-19 pandemic affected many economies, including Nigeria, as jobs were lost and incomes were affected due to the lockdowns, restrictions on movement and face-to-face interactions. He added that these factors sped up the pace of digitalisation of financial services and “the infiltration of some unscrupulous and unregulated financial service operators.”

He said, “The House is disturbed that these predatory lending apps are disguised as platforms where unsuspecting members of the public are promised access to quick loans with no collateral except the provision of a Bank Verification Number.

“The House is also disturbed that such victims are expected to repay loans at astronomical interest rates within three to seven days, as against the 91 to 365 days claim on Google Play store, which has over 83.07 per cent market share in Nigeria.”

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