FCCPC orders Google Play Store and Apple Store to remove digital lending apps

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has ordered Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (Apple Store) to remove certain applications when evidence has established inappropriate conduct or use of the application in violation of consumer rights.

The decision was the result of the joint investigation by the FCCPC, ICPC, EFCC, NITDA, NHRC and CBN into rights violations in the money lending industry.

In a statement released Monday by Babatunde Irukera, FCCPC’s Executive Vice President/General Manager for the Joint Regulation and Enforcement Task Force (JRETF), the investigation advanced last Friday regarding digital money lenders.

He explained that in addition, and pursuant to a Federal High Court order obtained and granted to the FCCPC, the JRETF executed a search and seizure order on certain digital money lenders.

According to Irukera, as part of the operation, the JRETF, the Nigerian Police and the Bailiff of the Federal High Court searched the premises of the lenders, extracted valuable evidence and, in certain circumstances, prohibited or restricted continued operations.

“In addition to the physical operation mentioned above, the commission entered and served orders on several financial institutions by freezing or suspending the operations of certain accounts that some of the moneylenders used to conduct business or involved transactions under investigation.

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“In addition, the commission has also entered and served sweeping orders on Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (App Store) to enforce the removal of certain apps where evidence has established inappropriate conduct or use. application in violation of consumer rights.

“The Commission’s order also prohibits the acceptance and submission of new applications for the same purpose without regulatory review and approval.

“The investigation is still active and ongoing. The JRETF expects further similar actions as it continues to gather additional intelligence for this purpose,” Irukera said.

In the meantime, the Commission “urged all companies that were subject to regulatory intervention on Friday 11 March 2022 to cease and desist from interest compounding and loan repayment/recovery practices that are the subject of this investigation”.

The FCCPC boss warned that in the event that any of these companies continue in any of these conducts, or if the Commission receives credible evidence of it, violators will be subject to the full extent of the law, including including prosecution (without the possibility of regulatory administrative resolution) .

“The Commission’s orders are without prejudice to existing borrowers who repay any legitimate loans on fair and acceptable terms; or any modification of the previous general conditions deemed onerous, incompatible with the law in force or the general principles of transparency and fairness. The obligation to comply with the foregoing extends to all agents, employees or agents of the companies concerned.

“The JRETF welcomes any useful information that may assist this investigation. The same can be provided to the Commission’s dedicated evidence collection repository at: [email protected],” Irukera added.

The Commission/JRETF, he asserted, will continue to provide updates to the public and urges consumers to support the investigation by continuing to provide actionable intelligence on “persons associated with the businesses or practices, their telephone and any other relevant information”.

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