By Elvis Eromosele
Today, everyone is talking about digital loan apps. They have been branded as villains and evil entities. This is not the complete story. Access to funds, loans, is a huge step in driving financial inclusion. Indeed, access to funds is an indispensable ingredient for socio-economic growth and prosperity.
Why is financial inclusion important? It is an essential enabler of developmental goals in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Consider this, whether in eradicating poverty, ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture; providing health and well-being; achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women; promoting economic growth and jobs; access to funds can make the difference between failure and success.
Access to funds leads to positive economic outcomes including increasing productivity and profits and greater investment in businesses.
Without a doubt, access to funds can boost investment, drive consumption and spur socio-economic growth. So, if access to funds is that important, why don’t banks provide this important service?
They are supposed to and in fact, claim to. The consensus, it would seem, is that the hurdles to clear to access the funds are almost insurmountable for the average person or small business. I’ll let more knowledgeable people discuss this point.
This is why the emergence of digital loan apps appear almost heaven-sent. They promise access to loans with only a few clicks and deliver spectacularly. They provide access to loans without cumbersome paper works. They provide a useful service and deserve commendation.
The problem comes when the people that collect the loans are unable to pay. Whatever the reasons they may proffer, defaulting on the loan triggers and releases “the beast” in the loan firms.
They want their money and want it quick. They resort to underhand methods that skirt the hem of decency and proper conduct. They cross the line and break the law. This precisely is the problem with these digital loan apps. They operate below the radar like they are in a jungle without laws.
Granted, many loan apps are on Google Playstore, but are they registered businesses in Nigeria? This is the critical question. If the loan apps are operating without regulation or guidelines, who do we blame? Some agencies of government have failed in their responsibility. The relevant personnel, agency, also needs to be penalized.
When a person takes a loan and defaults, they harass the contacts, blatantly invading people’s privacy, use blackmail and other underhanded tactics in seeking to get the loanee to repay the loan. Their harsh modus operandi is now their defining characteristic. The outcry against them has equally been vehement.
Why there is all sort of reasons why people may be unable to repay their loans as at when due. The loan apps must look at ways to get their monies without unduly involving and harassing other people who know absolutely nothing about the transaction. They should also be wary of unnecessary threats, harassment and intimation.
Aside from those on Playstore, others invade people’s DMS pledging with them to download the app via the link they send. To many, they have become a menace that needs to be curbed, curtailed and regulated.
It is not surprising therefore that the federal government have determined that a number of them are operating illegally in the country. The real wonder is that the FG is only just finding this out.
Now, as part of efforts to regulate the loan apps, the FG through an Inter-Agency Joint Regulatory & Enforcement Task Force of FCCPC, NITDA, ICPC recently raided some of the loan apps offices in Lagos State.
There are reports, many of them unconfirmed, of people who have taken their lives or developed high blood pressure because of the unscrupulous activities of these loan apps.
The grudge against them is numerous and grievous. The twin sins of these loan apps are defamation of character and excessive interests.
The quest to regulate the operations of the loan apps is completely in order. The way and matter the government goes about it also needs to be in order. Government agencies can’t break the law in the haste to stop a wrong. Two wrongs can never make a right.
The head of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, has been quoted as saying that the activities of the digital money lenders would now fall under regulatory control. This is a good first step.
When there are guidelines, the responsible loan apps will, no doubt, work to meet and abide by them. This is the proper thing to do and this is the right way to go.
While the loan apps may well have a genuine reason for their operational method, it has been adjudged offensive, invasion of privacy and against the law. They urgently need to stop.
Furthermore, they should do proper due diligence before handing out money like confetti. Do they do KYC? Do they consider the ability to repay? Are there contingency plans in place to tackle default and defaulters?
Maybe we should even ask where do they get the funds that they disburse?
Going forward, the loan apps urgently need to clean up their act. They are performing a useful service to the economy. Providing quick and easy loans at a moment’s notice is something most banks can only dream about. They should now learn to do things the way things should be done without breaking the rules and causing offence.
On FCCPC asking Google to remove the apps from Playstore, the truth is that Google is not under any obligation to heed the FCCPC’s directive on delisting the offending loan apps from its store unless the agency can show good cause.
There are stringent rules for this sort of thing. It involves reporting through the appropriate channel, indicating the specific rules broken by the loan apps and providing evidence.
Of course, the government can in principle make representation to Google directly to help move things along smoothly.
Let’s not be hasty in knocking the digital loan apps. This should not be another case of throwing away the baby with the bathwater. There are issues, yes. But they can be resolved with appropriate action on the part of all the parties involved. Let the government agency lay down the proper rules and regulations. This is the right way to go.
Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.
MTN Develops myMTN App To Share Christmas Gifts
MTN Nigeria has developed an app, myMTN NG to allow its subscribers send and receive during the Christmas yuletide as part of efforts to keep giving and rewarding customers.
MTN customers can refer any MTN subscriber of their choice, using the new myMTN NG app or dialing *135#, to receive an array of gifts. These include Jumia shopping vouchers to purchase curated festive hampers, 1GB data valid for seven days and TECNO mobile devices for free.
Speaking on the company’s digital direction, the chief marketing officer, MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho said, “This year’s edition has been digitized because of the restrictions on physical movement due to COVID-19. It’s a great opportunity for people to connect through giving and this time, we can all be a Y’ello Santa spreading happiness and good cheer!”
Season of Surprises is in line with MTN’s practice of giving back to communities and Nigerians as a whole. In previous editions, Nigerians have been surprised with food items, electronic gadgets, home appliances, mobile devices, bus and airfares as well as cash donations.
“We are committed to making Nigerians smile this special season. This presents a unique opportunity to spread the giving spirit and inspire people to show love to those around them,” Sowho stated. Season of Surprises is expected to run from December 17 to 24, 2021.
Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, Tems Dominate Spotify’s Nigeria’s 2021 Top Songs, Artists and Albums
wMusic streaming giant Spotify today unveiled Wrapped — an annual round-up of the top artists, albums, songs and playlists of the year as streamed by users on the platform from around the world.
In a year when we were getting to grips with the new normal, what was Nigeria’s soundtrack? In a first for the region, here are the 2021 Wrapped results, defining how Nigerians sought to stay entertained, informed, and connected with their favourite local and global music artists.
Who are Nigerians listening to, and who are the newcomers that are shaking up the music scene? Who still has staying power in the new normal and how do our local artists compare with the globe’s top hits and international hitmakers?
- Nigerians dominate the list, with WizKid coming in as the most streamed artist in Nigeria. He is followed by Burna Boy, then DaVido is third. The only international act in the top five is Drake who is the fourth most streamed artist. Olamide rounds off the top five.
- The love for local music continues in the most streamed female artists in Nigeria, with Tems topping this list. Nineteen-year-old Ayra Starr, who is also Spotify EQUAL’s November artist, is the second most streamed female artist. Doja Cat is the only international artist in this top five, coming in third. Teni is the fourth most streamed female artist, and Tiwa Savage is fifth.
- LADIPOE’s Feeling got Nigerians in their feels, coming in as the most streamed track in Nigeria, followed by Peru by Fireboy DML, then Ruger’s Bounce in at third. Omah Lay’s Understand is the fourth most streamed track in Nigeria, with Monalisa by Lojay closing off a Nigerian-dominated top five.
- Unsurprisingly, WizKid’s rave of the moment Made in Lagos (Deluxe Edition) is the top streamed album in Nigeria, and the original Made in Lagos is the second top streamed album, beating international star Justin Bieber’s Justice which is third. DaVido makes another top appearance with his album A Better Time coming in fourth, and Drake’s latest release, Certified Lover Boy closes off the top five.
- The playlist that Nigerians showed the most love is Hot Hits Naija, which really cements the fact that Nigerians love homegrown music.
To further give its users in Nigeria a more personalised feeling, Spotify has added a personalised Wrapped experience which has fun features such as:
- Data stories to express a user’s year in audio- In addition to a user’s top artists, genres, songs, podcasts and minutes listened, the personalised Wrapped experience includes features such as: 2021: The Movie, Your Audio Aura and 2021 Wrapped: Blend.
- Shareability- Fans can share their Wrapped cards on social channels like Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
- Exclusive experiences for top fans- An exciting feature is videos from more than 170 artists and creators, thanking fans for having them in their Wrapped. These thank you videos will appear if fans have a song by one of the participating artists in their “Your Top Songs 2021” or “Your Artists Revealed” playlists. Spotify will also be rolling out Spotify Clips for Podcasts and fans will be able to view special thank you messages from some of their favorite podcast hosts by visiting a participating show’s page on the platform.
The full breakdown of the top lists is below.
Most streamed artists in Nigeria
2. Burna Boy
8. Fireboy DML
Most streamed female artists in Nigeria
2. Ayra Starr
3. Doja Cat
5. Tiwa Savage
6. Nicki Minaj
Most streamed tracks in Nigeria
1. Feeling – LADIPOE
2. Peru – Fireboy DML
3. Bounce – Ruger
4. Understand – Omah Lay
5. Monalisa – Lojay
6. Essence (feat. Tems) – WizKid
7. Dimension (feat. Skepta & Rema) – JAE5
8. Ginger (feat. Burna Boy) – WizKid
9. Rock – Olamide
10. High – Adekunle Gold
Most streamed albums in Nigeria
1. Made in Lagos (Deluxe Edition) – WizKid
2. Made In Lagos – WizKid
3. Justice – Justin Bieber
4. A Better Time – DaVido
5. Certified Lover Boy – Drake
6. Twice As Tall – Burna Boy
7. Carpe Diem – Olamide
8. 19 & Dangerous – Ayra Starr
9. Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon – Pop Smoke
10. Donda – Kanye West
Most streamed playlists in Nigeria
2. African Heat
8. Party Dey!
It’s clear that Nigerians are loving the content coming out of the region and creators are making the most of platforms like Spotify to share their culture with the rest of the world through music.
Nigeria Leads Mobile App Market Growth for Africa
AppsFlyer, the global marketing measurement leader, has launched a report with Google that reveals a booming African mobile app market, propelled by a growing fintech space, a rise in ‘super apps’, and the COVID-19 pandemic amongst other factors.
Having analysed over 6,000 apps and 2 billion installs across South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, the report found that the African mobile app market showed strong growth, with overall installs increasing by 41%. Nigeria showed the highest growth, with a 43% uplift, followed by 37% in South Africa, and 29% in Kenya.
Showing perhaps the biggest trend, in-app purchasing revenue numbers soared between July and September, with a 136% increase compared to the previous three months. This accounted for a third of the year’s total revenue, highlighting just how much African consumers were spending within apps, from retail purchases to gaming upgrades.
South Africa’s in-app purchasing revenue surged by a massive 213%, with Nigeria and Kenya also showing significant increases of 141% and 74% in the same time frame.
COVID’s impact on app installs in Africa
With people spending more time at home, the report found overall app installs increased by 20% in Q2 2020 compared to the previous quarter. On a country level, South Africans were quick to take to their mobiles as the first lockdown hit, with installs of mobile apps increasing by 17%. The situation was more muted in Nigeria and Kenya, with increases of 2% and 9% respectively. These differences are likely due to the varying levels of restrictions experienced by the three countries, with South Africa facing the strictest.
Other key findings
- South Africa and Nigeria saw year-on-year growth in finance app installs by 116% and 60% respectively, as the need to reduce social contact has led to even more users adopting digital solutions for their financial needs.
- Android’s larger market share within Sub-Saharan Africa has seen advertisers spend more budget on the platform. Non-organic installs increased by 54%, compared to 19% for iOS.
The *cost per install (CPI) on iOS also increased by 21% between Q2 and Q3 2020, which meant iOS app developers were getting fewer installs for the same budget. Towards the end of the year and into 2021, there was no uplift in non-organic installs on iOS compared to 40% on Android.
- The report found similar levels of overall growth across verticals during the year, with gaming installs increasing by 44% and non-gaming increasing by 40%.
Commenting on the trends highlighted in the report, Daniel Junowicz, RVP EMEA & Strategic Projects, AppsFlyer said:
“We’re proud to combine forces with Google to provide businesses with the insights and technology needed to succeed on mobile in Africa. The mobile app space in Africa is thriving, despite the turmoil of the last year. Installs are growing, and consumers are spending more money than ever before, highlighting just how important mobile can be for businesses when it comes to driving revenue.
As a result, mobile marketing is becoming increasingly important for businesses across the continent. Being able to make data-driven informed decisions, and understand the ROI on marketing campaigns will be key to any app marketers success.”
Rama Afullo, Apps Lead for Africa at Google, added: “While it’s clear that mobile adoption is increasing, there’s still room for growth when it comes to app marketing, with many marketers in the nascent stage of their app maturity journey.
Taking advantage of app promotion and engagement tools like Google’s App Campaigns, using analytics and measurement tools, and working with mobile measurement partners like AppsFlyer, will be key for companies looking to grow their user base, drive customer value and continue improving the user experience.”
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