Google restricts customers’ data for loan apps

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By Oluyemi Ogunseyin

The Nigerian government has welcomed Google’s restriction on loan applications from accessing their users’ contacts and photographs from May 31, 2023. The government said the move showed that the tech giant was already institutionalizing its consumer privacy policy. “It is a welcome development effort and is consistent with the position the FCCPC has taken and what we are enforcing,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera.

“Google is now institutionalizing 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 consistent with our position as regulators.” Some of the loan apps in Nigeria have resorted to unethical, obnoxious, and unscrupulously exploitative practices in the industry. This has led to a lot of Nigerians going into depression after seriously being embarrassed on social media and even calls to their family members or friends.

It will be recalled that the federal government in recent times took some decisions which were aimed at tackling the violation of customers’ privacy by loan apps. Notably, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) had recently registered 170 loan apps out of the 200 operating in the country. And in its April 2023 policy updates, Google said the new policy update would provide respite for loan app users in Nigeria and other places that have become accustomed to crude loan retrieval methods employed by most loan apps.

“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,” Google said. “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.” According to Google, 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 obtained a verifiable approval letter from the commission will be allowed on Play Store in Nigeria.

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