FG orders Google, Apple to deactivate ‘illegal’ online banks, loan apps

Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (Apple Store) have been ordered by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to deactivate unapproved online banks and loan applications.

The Federal Government agency has asked Google and Apple to remove apps where evidence has been found of inappropriate conduct or use of the app in violation of consumer rights.

The agency also made it illegal to accept and present new online banking and loan applications without first undergoing regulatory review and approval.

This comes just two days after the FCCPC, working with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the National Information Technology Development Agency, and the Nigerian Police Force, shut down some illegal financial institutions on Opebi Road in Ikeja, Lagos.

Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, announced the decision in a statement to the Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force on Monday.

He said “In furtherance, and pursuant to an Order of the Federal High Court procured by and granted to the FCCPC, the JRETF executed a search and seizure Order on certain digital money lenders.

“As part of the operation, the JRETF together with the Nigeria Police Force and bailiff of the Federal High Court searched locations of the money lenders, extracted valuable evidence and in some circumstances prohibited or restricted continuing operations.

“In addition to the physical operation noted above, the Commission entered and served Orders on multiple financial institutions freezing or suspending operations of certain accounts which some of the money lenders have used to conduct implicated business or transactions subject of investigation.

“Further, the Commission also entered and served wide-ranging orders on Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (App Store) to enforce the withdrawal of certain applications where evidence has established inappropriate conduct or use of the application in violation of the rights of consumers.

“The Order of the Commission also prohibits acceptance and presentation of new applications for the same purpose without regulatory assessment and approval.

“In the interim, the Commission admonishes all the businesses that were subject of regulatory intervention on Friday, March 11, 2022, to cease and desist the interest compounding and loan repayment/collection practices that are the objects of this investigation.

“In the event that any of these businesses continue in any of this conduct, or the Commission receives credible evidence of such, violators will be subjected to the full extent of the law including prosecution without option of administrative regulatory resolution.

“The Orders of the Commission are without prejudice to existing borrowers repaying any legitimate loans pursuant to fair and acceptable terms and conditions; or any modifications to previous terms and conditions that are considered onerous, inconsistent with prevailing law or general principles of transparency and fairness.

“The obligation to comply with the above extends to all operatives, employees or agents of the affected businesses.

“The JRETF welcomes any useful information that may assist this investigation. The Commission/JRETF will continue to provide updates to the public, and invites consumers to support the investigation by continuing to provide actionable intelligence about persons associated with the businesses or practices, their telephone numbers and any other pertinent information.”

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