Google said loan apps are prohibited from accessing users’ photos and contacts effective from May 31, 2023.
The policy is to address the rising privacy concerns from loan apps.
FCCPC said described the policy as a positive outcome of its partnership with Google to sanitize the digital lending space.
A reprieve may have come for many Nigerians borrowing from loan apps as Google has introduced a new policy banning the apps from accessing photos and contacts of users. According to Google, this policy takes effect from May 31, 2023.
This policy is in addition to earlier issued requirements for loan apps in Nigeria, which mandated them to submit an approval document from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).
The FCCPC said new Google’s policy to ban loan apps from accessing user contacts, and photos is one of the success stories of the Commission’s partnership with Google as it continues to sanitize the digital lending space in Nigeria.
Announcing the new policy update on its developer policy page, Google 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.
“Apps that provide personal loans, or have the primary purpose of facilitating access to personal loans (i.e., lead generators or facilitators), are prohibited from accessing sensitive data, such as photos and contacts.”
In addition to that, Google said the loan apps must also provide all the necessary information about their interest rates, repayment plans, applicable fees, and charges on the Play Store to guide users.
“Personal loan consumers require information about the quality, features, fees, repayment schedule, risks, and benefits of loan products in order to make informed decisions about whether to undertake the loan,” Google said.
Until now, loan apps in Nigeria make it compulsory for users to grant permission to access their photos and contacts. This access is used to blackmail the user in case of default, thus raising privacy concerns.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, the continuous violation of people’s privacy and unethical recovery practices led to the introduction of an interim registration framework for digital lenders in partnership with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCCC).
At the close of the registration on March 27, 2023, the FCCPC released a list of 173 digital lending companies that had been registered. The registered companies were said to have provided information regarding their interest rates, the type of information they access from their customers, and sources of their money, among others.
The FCCPC CEO, however, noted that registration does not mean that all the registered companies are law-abiding, but it will significantly reduce how they violate the law. According to him, with the information provided by the registered companies, the Commission can easily trace them and hold them accountable if they violate any law.