Starting from May 31, 2023, loan apps on the Google Play Store will no longer have the ability to access users’ contacts or photos, according to the latest policy updates by Google. This move is in line with the Nigerian government’s efforts to protect customers’ privacy from the invasion by loan app firms.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission recently registered 170 loan apps out of the 200 operating in the country, as part of the government’s efforts to tackle privacy violations by loan apps. In addition, Google’s new policy updates will provide relief for loan app users in Nigeria and other countries who have become accustomed to crude loan retrieval methods employed by many loan apps.
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The new policy will require personal loan apps targeting users in Pakistan to submit country-specific licensing documentation to prove their ability to provide or facilitate personal loans. This policy comes after Google announced updates to its Developer Programme Policy, mandating digital money lenders in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya to conform to regulatory rules or be taken down by January 31.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Babatunde Irukera, commended Google for institutionalizing its regulatory policy and supporting the commission’s position as regulator. The commission’s ‘Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending 2022’ is an attempt to regulate the digital lending space and make registration and approval a prerequisite for companies seeking to operate in the space.
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This new policy is a welcome development in protecting the privacy of Nigerians, as loan apps had started harassing people by sending defaming messages to their contacts. Although Google’s policy does not allow apps that promote personal loans that require repayment in full in 60 days or less from the date the loan is issued, many loan apps in the country do not adhere to it, exposing many Nigerians to confidential data leaks.