The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has tightened the rules for companies engaged in digital lending of small loans to the general public via mobile apps and e-wallets. Under the new rules, these companies will have to obtain a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to get their licenses, and introduce terms and conditions in Urdu to facilitate citizens.
A senior officer from the regulator told The Express Tribune that, “SECP has, so far, issued licenses to only three such companies, while all other companies running loan products through mobile apps are illegal, against whom action is being taken. The regulator has tracked down many of these illegal companies to take action.So far, over 40 illegal mobile apps have been blocked while action is being taken against the others,” he said.
Currently, the amount of small loans provided through mobile apps exceed Rs13 billion, said officials. As many as 1000 complaints were received against the lending companies, however, the number dropped after the adoption of the stricter regulations, they said. As transactions made on loan apps are conducted through wallet accounts enabled via EasyPaisa and JazzCash, they will also be subject to PTA’s NOC. EasyPaisa and JazzWallet accounts cannot be opened without an NOC from PTA.
The SECP officials further maintained that the digital lending companies have also been directed to charge the market interest rate on the small loans being acquired. If complaints are received for charging higher interest rates, then SECP will put the interest rate limit on the loans.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2022.
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