The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has announced its intention to formulate a new regulatory framework to tackle the growing issue of Nigerians’ increasing indebtedness to digital money lenders (DMLs), commonly known as loan apps.
During a live program on TVC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, revealed the rising concern over indebtedness to DMLs, highlighting it as a significant industry problem. While the Commission has effectively reduced abuse and harassment by loan apps, borrowers on these platforms continue to default, posing a potential threat to the digital lenders playing crucial roles in the economy.
Irukera emphasized the emergence of a significant problem: the reduction in harassment and defamation tactics by loan apps has led to a surge in loan defaults. He expressed the need for a more sensible approach to loan recovery, rejecting the notion that abusing borrowers is the only effective means of communication. Recognizing the importance of responsible borrowing and lending, the FCCPC plans to introduce regulations in 2024 that promote ethical practices by individuals and corporations.
The CEO highlighted the broader scope of these regulations, envisioning a future where even school landlords could report tenant, student, and parent behavior to a centralized credit system. This, he believes, would enhance fiscal responsibility and creditworthiness evaluation.
Irukera argued for a systemic approach, suggesting that denying people access to credit based on their responsibility or lack thereof would encourage self-regulation and improve loan recovery. The Commission discovered that most defaulters are individuals simultaneously taking loans from multiple apps, a problem that a centralized credit system could potentially address.
While acknowledging an 80% reduction in harassment and defamatory messages from loan apps due to the interim framework’s implementation, Irukera emphasized ongoing efforts to address the remaining 20%. He stressed that the interim regulatory framework is evolving, given the new and emerging nature of fintech globally. Recognizing the societal importance of digital money lending, the FCCPC aims to develop the best regulatory ecosystem by learning from industry practices.
Under the interim regulatory framework, the FCCPC has registered over 200 loan apps to sanitize the digital lending market, eliminating unethical practices of defamation and harassment. Currently, a total of 211 digital lenders have received approval from the Commission.