On August 18, 2022, the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (Commission) as part of the Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force (JRETF) introduced a Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 (Guidelines 2022 or “Guidelines”), as well as an associated registration process/platform.
The above is in view of Pursuant to Sections 17(a), (e), (g). (h). (1). (m), (s). (x). (V). 18(3); 123. 124; 127, 129 and 130 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 (FCCPA).
For already existing Digital Money Lenders (DMLS), the Guidelines mandated completion of the registration process by November 14, 2022 in order to remain in business and retain privileges of services by providers such as Google Playstore and payment systems or gateways. On December 6, 2022, the Commission extended that deadline to January 31, 2023; and subsequently to March 27, 2023.
Since acceptance and processing of registration closed, the Commission has continued to be inundated with requests for registration, approval or clearance by both then existing platforms that failed to timely comply with the mandatory deadlines, and new businesses seeking to commence operations.
Accordingly, while the JRETF continues the work of developing a more robust, comprehensive and enduring digital lending regulatory framework, the Commission will resume receiving and approving eligible DML applications (new and previously inexistent 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, and or were taken down by Google Playstore, or ceased transaction processing or termination services by payment systems or gateways, the Commission will only consider and process such applications (whether currently received and pending before the Commission or otherwise) upon 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) shall be subject to a late processing fee. This fee should be paid through the Remita platform under the Approval Fee section.
Financial institutions that are licensees, and subject to the regulatory oversight of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are exempt, and may obtain the required approval by a written request seeking a waiver by demonstrating such exemption, including evidence of licensure by the CBN.
The Commission and JRETF continues to monitor the market and enforce the law with respect to digital lending. While violations still exist, the Commission notes substantial reduction in practices that violate consumer privacy, constitute harassment and unacceptable unconventional loan repayment/recovery strategies, as well as unexplained charges associated with loans.
The Commission welcomes continued consumer vigilance in reporting incidents of infringement for appropriate regulatory responses.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer