NITDA Hits Microloan Platform Soko Loan with N10m Fine For User Privacy Invasion

Loan apps are increasingly becoming popular as they can be accessed faster than loans from commercial banks are devoid of the long, cumbersome, and unnecessarily stressful process of application and the compulsory provision of collateral.

If you’ve ever used a loan service, then you know about how these apps, even though they do not ask for collateral, ask for access into your phone or ask you to provide details that involve giving them access into your phone.

On today’s radar is Soko Loan Company, a Nigerian-based microloan platform that provides users with small instant loans without collateral.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has accused Soko Loan Company Limited and deemed the company guilty of invasion of privacy illegally tampering with users’ private data, and has fined the microloan platform the sum of N10 million.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said that its decision to sanction Soko Loan came after it got a complaint filed by Bloomgate Solicitors on behalf of its client on Monday, 11th November 2019, that the company was guilty of tampering with users’ data among other things. The company is guilty of “unauthorized disclosure, failure to protect customers’ personal data and defamation of character and to carry out due diligence as prescribed by the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDP)”, according to NITDA.

NITDA made it clear that the decision was not reached abruptly or hastily. It said that everything was done according to procedure and an investigation launched and that Soko Loan Company Limited has been found guilty of the aforementioned offenses.

Apart from the complaints received from Bloomgate Solicitors on behalf of its client by NITDA, the agency has also received other complaints which majorly revolves around the loan service contacting their contacts via text and WhatsApp.

A part of the statement released by the agency reads “one of 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”.

Soko Loan, therefore, sends unethical and even illegal messages to the contacts of their users when they fail to pay up their loan.

NITDA says that it has issued several warnings asking Soko Loan to bring an end to its unscrupulous practices but the latter has failed to adhere and that the service went ahead to rebrand and continue its unscrupulous ways. Soko Loan has been confirmed to have seven apps with which it runs its lending service.

Apart from the N10 million fine, Soko Loan has been ordered to stop sending messages to the contacts of their users.

Below is a screenshot of a WhatsApp message sent to a contact of a user who failed to pay a loan it acquired from Soko Loan.

With the many microloan platforms operating with unethical practices, the fine against Soko Loan promises to be the first of many.

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