Trouble for Palmpay, OKash and others as Nigerian government bars online banks from accessing customers’ photos, contacts

The Nigerian government has announced plans to bar online banks and loan applications from accessing their customers’ contacts or photos from May 31, 2023.


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The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera, stated this following the latest policy by Google.

Recall that Google, in its April 2023 policy updates, said digital money lenders in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya are to conform to regulatory rules or be taken down from Play Store.

The firm said only digital money lenders that have adhered to and completed the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (as may be amended from time to time) by the FCCPC and obtain a verifiable approval letter from the Commission will be allowed on its platform in Nigeria.

Google had said, “Policy preview (effective May 31, 2023): This article previews changes included in our April 2023 policy updates.

We are updating our personal loans policy to state that apps aiming to provide or facilitate personal loans may not access user contacts or photos.

“We are introducing additional requirements for personal loan apps targeting users in Pakistan. Personal loan apps in Pakistan must submit country-specific licensing documentation to prove their ability to provide or facilitate personal loans.”

In a chat with The Punch, Irukera said the action by Google is a welcome development and shows that the technology firm was institutionalizing its regulatory policy.

Irukera said FCCPC would enforce the latest policy by Google, which he said was consistent with the Nigerian authorities’ move to curtail the invasion of customers’ privacy by loan app firms.

He stated that the federal government had in recent times taken major decisions aimed at tackling the violation of customers’ privacy by loan companies.

Irukera disclosed that the Commission had recently approved 173 digital lending applications to operate in the country, stating that 119 of these got full approvals while 54 got conditional approvals.

He said, “It is a welcome development effort and is consistent with the position the FCCPC has taken and what we are enforcing.

“Google is now institutionalising our regulatory effort as a policy, which is very welcome. It is certainly important for proper regulatory oversight of the industry, and we commend Google for taking a position that is consistent with our position as regulators.

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