The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) on Friday announced the reopening of registration of digital money lending platforms in the country.
The registration carried out under the inter-agency Joint Task Force’s Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending 2022 is pursuant to Sections 17(a), (e), (g), (h). (1), (m), (s), (x), (y), 18(3); 123; 124; 127; 129 and 130 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018.
The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, said the Commission introduced the Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (Guidelines 2022 or “Guidelines”) as well as an associated registration process/platform, on August 18, 2022, as part of the Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force (JRETF) mandate.
For already existing Digital Money Lenders, such as Google Playstore and payment systems or gateways, Irukera said the guidelines mandated the completion of the registration process by November 14, 2022, in order to remain in business and retain privileges of services by providers.
On December 6, 2022, he said the Commission extended the deadline for registration to January 31, 2023; and subsequently to March 27, 2023.
Since acceptance and processing of registration closed, Irukera said the Commission continued to be inundated with requests for registration, approval, or clearance by both existing platforms that failed to timely comply with the mandatory deadlines, and new businesses seeking to commence operations.
While the JRETF continued work on developing a more robust, comprehensive and enduring digital lending regulatory framework, he said the Commission would resume receiving and approving eligible DML applications (new and previously in existing businesses) and requests (including those already received and pending) under, and in accordance with the Guidelines and existing process.
With respect to businesses that existed, or were taken down by Google Playstore, or ceased transaction processing or termination services by payment systems or gateways, Irukera confirmed that the Commission would only consider and process such applications on certain conditions.
He said whether currently received and pending before the Commission or otherwise, such application would be processed upon the receipt of a statement of justification that sufficiently articulates an acceptable reason or justification for failing to conclude or complete the registration before the expiration of the previously set deadline.
In addition, these applications (whether already received and pending, or otherwise) would be subject to a late processing fee paid through the Remita platform under the Approval Fee section.
Also, Financial institutions that are licensees, and subject to the regulatory oversight of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were exempt, and may obtain the required approval by a written request seeking a waiver by demonstrating such exemption, including evidence of being licensed by the CBN.
Irukera said the FCCPC and JRETF would continue to monitor the market and enforce the law with respect to digital lending.
On violations, he said while the Commission observed that the menace still existed, substantial reduction was noticed in practices that violate consumer privacy, constitute harassment and unacceptable unconventional loan repayment/recovery strategies, as well as unexplained charges associated with loans.
He said the Commission welcomes continued consumer vigilance in reporting incidents of infringement for appropriate regulatory responses.