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eNaira Wallet App Angrily Removed From Play Store, After Too Many Negative Reviews

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Earlier today, we reported that there were too many negative reviews about the newly launched eNaira wallet app on play store, barely 36 hours after it was launched by the CBN Nigeria.

However, the app has been removed from Google play store, but still currently available on the Apple app store with 2.6 over 5 ratings. 

The digital currency has two applications, which are eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet.

On Monday, the two apps were rolled out on the Google play store and the Apple store, 36 hours later, it was removed from Google play store.

So many negative reactions have trailed the launch of the app as many users complained of several issues, ranging from the inability to link their Bank Verification number, to getting a verification email.

in the review section, many Nigerians expressed their displeasure. 

A user, Moyosore Fagbemigun, despite giving four stars, wrote: ”After sign up, I did not get the verification email in my BVN linked email. I have checked the spam folder and nothing yet. Easy registration process.”

Another user, Oscar Alexander, who gave it one star rating, noted, “I tried registering the first time. Told me there was no email attached to my BVN. I tried my other bank account. It told me an invalid account number. Lol. Now it says too many attempts with the same BVN. What a joke!”

The eNaira was developed by the fintech company, Bitt, which was also responsible for the creation of CBDC in some East Caribbean countries. We are expecting to see an update to fix the bug contained in the app.

But no words yet from CBN nor the developer .

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Crime

Loan Apps Go Gangster, Send ‘Shame’ Messages To Close Contacts Of Loan Defaulters

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The Nigerian fintech space is growing exponentially, attracting the attention of both foreign and local investors and drawing new entrants into the diverse sub-sectors within the ecosystem. A good number of them have struck gold offering uncollateralized loan facilities to Nigerians albeit at eye-popping interest rates. Of this cohort, it would appear as if some have met and agreed to come down hard on defaulters, resorting to unbelievably desperate measures to recover loan facilities obtained from their apps.

Findings made by Nairametrics show that a number of these loan app operators now send embarrassing short messages service (SMS) and WhatsApp messages to the close contacts of their loan defaulters with the intention of shaming the defaulters, tagging them with terms like ‘criminal,’ ‘fraudster,’ and ‘terrible debtor’ among others.

In some cases, the full names, phone numbers and pictures of the alleged loan defaulters are shared with their contacts like religious leaders, members of churches and mosques, close friends, bosses, colleagues and family members.

Victims recount their experiences

A paint manufacturer who introduced himself to Nairametrics as Adewunmi explained that he took a loan of N100,000 from one of the Fintech firms in Nigeria (Sokoloan) to deliver his products to a client. According to him, he defaulted for one week but had called the app’s staff four days before his repayment was due to explain that he would be unable to meet up with the repayment schedule on the said date.

To Adewunmi’s surprise, his Pastor called him three days after he had repaid the loan and requested to see him urgently on a Friday evening.

“He called me into his house asking me questions on why I obtained a loan from a company and refused to pay as at when due. I was blank for some minutes before I told him I had repaid the fintech firm,” Adewunmi narrated.

“That is not true,” the pastor responded. “A member of the church and the Head of Department of the Prayer Champions called me this evening that the bank sent the same message to them calling you a fraudster and a cheat,” he said.

Adewumi recalls being flabbergasted at what his pastor narrated. “I showed him the proof of my payment and the response I got from the firm as an acknowledgement before he believed me. From that day, I made up my mind never to obtain a loan from any fintech firm again,” he stated painfully.

The SMS Sokoloan sent to Adewunmi’s contacts read:

“This is to inform the general public that Mr Adewunmi *** with telephone *** is a chronic debtor and a fraudster. He is on the run after duping a lending money company. You are advised to stay clear from him.”

Stella is another victim of the menace. In her case, she defaulted on a loan facility obtained from another fintech firm in Ibadan for one month in October 2020. According to the former staff of one of the local airlines in the country, she could not pay up because she lost her job a month before repayment was due.

“I had planned to refund the credit facility but when the unexpected happened, all my plans went south. I reached out to a designated staff of the loan app operator and pleaded for an extension of three months, to which the staff agreed.

“But I was shocked a week later when a friend I have not seen for five years called me, asking questions about my welfare and whether I was affected by the lockdown. I didn’t suspect anything until he told me he got a WhatsApp message from the fintech, alerting him to avoid doing business with me that I am a loan defaulter.

“When he forwarded the message to me, I knew it that I had passed my bounds and decided never to do that again. My friend sent the money to me and I repaid the loan. Obviously, the plan was to embarrass and disgrace me, so I would go to any extent to repay them. But what if I fell into depression and lost my sanity, how would that have made the fintech any better?” she recounted.

Another victim, Adeolu (name changed) recounted his experience to Nairametrics. In his case, he had obtained a loan of less than N30,000 with an interest of nearly 25% for a 15-day period. The repayment was due on a Wednesday and a staff of Kash Kash, the loan firm, called him to notify him that repayment was due.

Adeolu informed the staff that his invoices to clients were being delayed and requested that the fintech firm give him until Friday, which was the last day of the month, to repay. The staff agreed. The very next day, another staff of the firm put a call through to his wife, a lawyer, threatening her that the company was going to involve the police in the matter.

“My wife was embarrassed, especially since I had not told her of the loan. She asked about the amount and the repayment date. When she realised that the loan was overdue by less than 24 hours, she went berserk and gave the staff a dress-down. She also threatened to report their illegal action in contacting her to NITDA.

“The staff immediately became docile and explained that I had asked to be given until Friday to repay the loan. My wife assured her that there would be no further extension to the loan and the company backed off. Apparently, they are afraid of the regulators but they take advantage of the fact that most people are ignorant of the existence of NITDA and even the oversight functions of the CBN in regulating the activities of these fintechs.

“These agencies need to do more to help Nigerians know that they exist and are functional,” Adeolu said.

A Nairametrics analyst also shared his experience when a strange number sent a WhatsApp message to him (with a picture) that one Ms Damilola had defaulted in paying a loan obtained from the app.

The message read thus:

“FINAL WARNING!!! Good day, be informed Ms Damilola with phone number 081303xxxxx Is a defaulter who took LOAN and has vehemently refused to pay. Hence her actions has proven to be SUSPICIOUS. Kindly reach her and compel her to pay up her loan as the company is taking unfriendly & drastic measures including reporting her debt to CREDIT BUREAU as this is an ALLEGEDLY FRAUDULENT ACT. NOTE: You are getting this message because she gave us your number as EMERGENCY CONTACT.”

The shocking news here is that our analyst does not know the lady in question and the name of the fintech was not mentioned either.

According to the sender, the loan defaulter had given out our analyst’s number as an emergency contact person. But one would have expected the fintech to verify the information the loan seeker dropped before taking such steps.

There are countless complaints on the pages of many of these loan apps on the Google PlayStore showing the deep grief caused by those messages.

What NITDA is saying about debt collection strategy

The National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has described the debt recovery strategy adopted by some of these fintechs as a data-sharing breach.

The agency frowned at such practices and emphasized that no fintech firm is allowed to share its customers’ data without due process.

This was made known in a press release by NITDA’s spokesperson, Hadiza Umah.

To curb the trend, NITDA imposed a sanction of N10 million on an online lending platform, Soko Lending Company Limited (Sokoloan), for data privacy invasion.

According to NITDA, it received a series of complaints against the company, including ‘unauthorized disclosures, failure to protect customers’ personal data, and defamation of character.

How fintechs access customers’ data
NITDA said its investigations showed that Sokoloan grants its customers uncollateralized loans and requires a loanee to download its mobile application on their phone and activate a direct debit in the company’s favour which grants the application access to the loanee’s phone contacts.

“According to the complainants, when he failed to meet up with his repayment obligations due to insufficient credit in his account on the date the direct debit was to take effect, the company unilaterally sent privacy-invading messages to the complainant’s contacts,” NITDA said.

An IT expert, Tolulope Ogundipe, told Nairametrics that some of the fintechs embed trackers that share data with third parties inside their mobile application without providing users information about it or using the appropriate lawful basis.

He said, “Some of them are guilty of unwillingness to cooperate with the Data Protection Authority, contrary to Article 3.1 (1) of Data Protection Implementation Framework; and non-filing of NDPR Audit reports through a licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisation (DPCO), contrary to Article 4.1(7) of the NDPR.

“I expect NITDA to ensure all of them are brought to book, as they will curb others in the industry. The challenge is that most of their victims won’t report their cases to appropriate quarters, as they suffer in silence due to ignorance.”

Bottomline

While NITDA is expected to investigate other erring fintechs and protect innocent Nigerians, it is important to note that the agency can only work on petitions/complaints filed to it by victims.

The loan defaulters that have experienced or are experiencing this illegal form of harassment are expected to report to NITDA for appropriate steps to be taken.

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Crime

EFCC Seized Jewellery Worth ₦14.6 Billion From Ex-Minister, Diezani – EFCC

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The EFCC boss stressed that the houses seized from the former Minister was also valued at $80 million (about N37, 000, 000, 000).

Jewellery worth N14.6 billion was seized from former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), the anti-graft agency had said.

This was disclosed on Friday by the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, before the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee investigating the assessment and status of recovered loot in Abuja.
Bawa revealed that Diezani’s jewellery is still in the custody of the agency, noting it has finally been forfeited to the Federal Government.

He stressed that it had not been auctioned off.

The EFCC boss stressed that the houses seized from the former Minister was also valued at $80 million (about N37, 000, 000, 000).

According to Bawa, the court processes, procedures and administrative exigencies, are said to have stalled the process of having some of the seized assets auctioned by the anti -graft agency. He noted that the agency would henceforth deal with the seized assets case by case at the courts in order to quickly dispose the assets.

“Already the Federal Government has set up a committee under the chairmanship of the Solicitor-General for the Federation and I think they are working tirelessly.

“We have EFCC representatives from that committee and we believe at the end of the day Nigerians are going to appreciate what that committee will come out with in term of the mandate given to them,” he said.

Bawa who stated that he was not a member of the committee to know how soon the assets were going to be disposed said in its quest to transform the agency, it would soon digitalise its processes.

Four additional departments which include Intelligence, procurement, Internal Affairs and the Information Communication Technology Department had been created and upgraded to restore confidence. Bawa said.

According to NAN, Bawa said there was no loot that had been re-looted as being speculated, stressing that going forward, the EFCC would be different and Nigerians would be the better for it.

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Economy

Why Nigeria Can’t Stop Borrowing – CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that Nigeria cannot stop burrowing, especially when it is necessary as it is part of fiscal responsibility.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said this on Friday in Abuja at the National Dialogue on the Nigeria’s rising debt profile, titled: “The Rising Public Debt in Nigeria and the Challenges of National Development” organised by the ActionAid Nigeria (AAN).

This is as AAN and stakeholders, expressed worry over unstable levels of borrowings and rising national debt profile under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and rising poverty level.

According to Emefiele, represented by the Assistant Director, Monetary Policy Department, CBN, Dr. Tawose Joseph, there is no crime in borrowing, but that there should be monitoring and evaluation of the money borrowed and the purpose meant for.

“Debt is part of fiscal responsibility. Debt is never a crime or a sin. Private entity also burrows to survive. But what matter most is the quantum of the debt and the usage of the debt as well. If a money is burrowed as a result of shortage of income generation.

“When you compare the income and expenditure and is efficiently used is part of government responsibility. But where the fear is when it is above the threshold.

“CBN understand that when there is crisis in an economy, then the burden of debt would be something. That is why the conventional and non-conventional instruments is there to ensure price stability in the economy,” he said.

He added that the CBN formulates policies that positively affect the grassroots people, and added that the Apex Bank considers facts and figures before making policies.

He said that the CBN has rolled out 37 initiatives to positively affect the economy, but noted that there are challenges despite that intervention.

Stakeholders bemoan unstable borrowing, rising debts

Speaking earlier, the AAN Country Director, Ene Obi, expressed worry over upward trend in the nation’s debt profile, which she said keeps piling up and closing the fiscal space for effective delivery of public goods.

According to her, as at 31 December 2020, data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) showed that the nation’s total debt stock stood at N32, 915,514.85trn ($86,392.54 billion).

Obi said that continued borrowing is clearly not sustainable both in the short and the long-term but rather enslaving the citizens and future generations.

She said that the Nigerian government needs to proactively garner the political will to reduce the size and cost of governance, fight corruption, close leakages in the revenue generation and utilization as it makes no sense at all giving away large chunk of “our resources on tax incentives but continue to seek funding abroad and locally.

“It is in view of these that ActionAid is convening of a National Dialogue on the Rising Public Debt, as an antipoverty agency, ActionAid is worried that if the unchecked borrowing continues, Nigeria’s efforts at dealing with its challenges of unemployment, failing social services and infrastructure deficit and rising incidences of poverty will be a mirage.

“It is also concerned that the country is not exploring other avenues such as blocking leakages from corruption, illicit financial flows, reducing cost of governance amongst others as alternatives to unsustainable and conditional laden debt.

“Recall that in 2006 the Nigerian government secured a debt relief from the international consortium of creditors otherwise known as the ‘Paris Club’. The key argument of the government then was the inability of the country to meet its development obligations due to its debt servicing obligations.

“At the time the country was indebted to the Paris Club to the tune of $36bn. Giving the debt servicing obligation, that affected the annual expenditure of education and health care as was argued by the President at that time, thus making it an unsustainable venture in the journey to National development,” she said.

In her keynote, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, represented by the Head, Marketing Development Department (MDD), Debt Management Office (DMO), Mr. Monday Usiade, said the borrowings by the Federal Government followed due process as the National Assembly approved and passed budgets including monies to be borrowed.

She also commended AAN for conveying the dialogue as it will provide an avenue to broaden the discourse about public debts in Nigeria.

She, however, acknowledged that debt profile is really increasing, saying, “The government acknowledges that the nation’s public debt is growing, and it is also important to add that all borrowings both domestic and external are approved by the National Assembly before they are incurred, that is the representatives of the people.

“The borrowings are approved in the budget that is used to finance the budget offices and other projects presented by the various ministries, departments and agencies of the government. As you may be aware the federal government conducts and publishes debt sustainability analysis on the public debt portfolio on annually basis.

“The DMO exercise helps to determine among others. The results of the DSO are used to prepare the national budget, then the budget is now presented to the National Assembly who has the responsibility of appropriation including the amount that will be borrowed.

“The federal government also develops its medium-term budget management strategies on regular basis. The NTDS helps to set public debt management objectives to ensure that borrowing operations are conducted in a responsible manner, and the cost of enlist profile of the debt portfolio are within reasons,” Ahmed said.

She also explained that some of the reasons the government publishes relevant information on public debts include debt transparency and accountability and engender public discourse of this nature.

Also, the National President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, represented by Head Women and Youth of the congress, Mrs, Rita Goyit, lamented that the national debt profile has made poverty risen including widening inequality gap, and the people are living in abject poverty, which is at a worrisome height.

Wabba who said this has led to other vices challenging the security and peace of the country, also lamented poor treatment of workers across the country as issues that affect them, especially the minimum wage debacle, where workers are not being paid what they ought to be paid.

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