Over 70 Online Lending Banks Apps Operate In Nigeria As FCCPC Indicts Google For Frustrating FG’s Efforts

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The Federal Government said there are about 70 to 90 online lending applications currently operated by various firms in Nigeria, in which a large number of them are illegal.


The Executive Vice Chairman, Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, made the disclosure in Lagos on Thursday, during a collaborative engagement with the media to review and analyse the state of the market.


He said some of the online apps were legitimate while others were operating illegally.


“Not all the online loan applications are illegal. Some are completely illegitimate; some are legitimate but illegitimate in their approach to tracking debtors. We are against the illegitimate works,” Irukera said.


The FCCPC boss however blamed Google for the inability to trace the owners of some defaulting online money lending banks over consumer rights violations.


The Daily Bells recalls that the commission had ordered Google and Apple to enforce the withdrawal of these money lending applications from their stores where evidence of inappropriate conduct or use of the application in violation of the rights of consumers has been established.


According to Irukera, he considered the development a potential threat to key national interest, adding that once Google uses its play store as a platform for that kind of app to operate, there is a problem.


Holding Google responsible for the mass lending apps in the country, Irukera said, “No company, no matter what benefit they bring should have that prerogative or opportunity of being that anonymous.


“And that is the problem we are dealing with. So, we must hold the big ones who are making a tonne of money from our citizens responsible.


“If we can hold them responsible and they become liable for that kind of conduct, then we can cascade down and we can talk to Instagram that if anyone is going to sell stuff on your platform, there must be certain information that must be available.


“You cannot provide those platform, make your money and look the other way while people who come on that platform exploit people and people are stuck.


“There has to be a level ground for everyone. In the absence of that, even your business itself is an exploitation. If you are not the exploiter, you are at least ceding the platform to exploiters to exploit people.”


Irukera noted that it is easier to hold Google responsible for those individuals behind the online money lenders.


He said the commission might need to work with law enforcement in the United States, to get them come up with the information needed to get those behind the digital lenders.


The FCCPC boss said, “We have our counterparts there and we will use our counterparts to say to Google that you are not welcome in this country if we cannot find you; that a regulator cannot engage you when your platform is used to exploit people.



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“No! You are not welcomed. You are absolutely unwelcomed if your platform can be used to exploit the people and the regulator could not prevent that exploitation.


“Therefore, you are absolutely unwelcomed. And I have absolutely no apologies for saying that about Google.”


Irukera expressed frustration over the inability of the commission in contacting Google while trying to pull out apps from the Google Store.


He said, “I find that extremely reprehensible and shameful of a company the size and magnitude with Google, that you are hardly where you can be found.


“It is the height of reckless irresponsibility. That a company with a brand and a name like Google and so I intend to hold Google accountable.’’


Speaking further, the FCCPC boss also urged companies to be responsible and responsive to customer care services.


According to him, the government is more accessible and easier to find than private individuals because individuals want to make a profit.


Irukera said, “Government for all its inefficiencies is more accessible, easier to find than private individuals who just sell to make a profit.


“Industry must prioritise responsiveness and responsibility to their customers. Customers responsiveness is a core to business and FCCPC owes this as a responsibility.”


He said the media is a critical infrastructure in the constitution obligation of the government to protect the consumers’ interest.


“What we intend to achieve is to educate people of their rights,” he said.

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