App lenders sign code of conduct, commit to responsible lending practices

Digital Lenders Association Directors (L-R) Ivan Mbowa East Africa Regional Country Growth Manager Tala), Allan Mukui (DLAK Secretary and CEO Kuwazo), Robert Masinde (DLAK Chairperson and CEO Zenka), Rose Muturi (DLAK Vice Chairperson and Chief Digital Officer HF Group), Kevin Mutiso (DLAK Director and CEO Alternative Circle) during the launch of Digital Lenders Association [Photo, File]
NAIROBI, KENYA: Members of the Digital Lenders Association (DLAK), on Thursday signed on a code of conduct and announced plans to adopt a self-regulatory framework and a set of shared principles to guide members.

Speaking during the formal launch of the Association, DLAK Chairman and Zenka CEO Robert Masinde said that the code of conduct will promote ethical business practice and broadly addresses emerging consumer protection issues.  

“At the heart of the code is a requirement for consumer protection. It requires digital lenders to practice responsible lending, disclose standardized pricing, improve transparency and fairly resolve customer disputes while respecting the spirit of self-regulation and raising the bar on ethical lending,” Masinde said.

Compliance

The association has a committee in place to call out signatories it finds to be non-compliant. Currently, 13 members have signed the code of conduct and are working in compliance with the code.

 “The code we have signed today requires members to comply with a series of best practice principles when dealing with customers. Members who do not adhere to the Code will be publicly disbarred from the Association,” said DLAK Vice Chairperson and HF Group Chief Digital Officer Rose Muturi.

Muturi added: “We are proud to be working together to take proactive steps to bring transparency to the market, and ensure we’re doing what’s best for our customers.”

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The digital lenders move to form the association is informed by the decision by the CBK to regulate the sector following complaints of exploitation by the public.

DLAK said it would collaborate with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in enhancing compliance and addressing consumer protection issues that the apex bank has been working towards.

Earlier this month, the Banking Charter came into effect with the objective of setting standards in the financial sector.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge is on record saying some of the firms operating mobile phone loan applications would be deregistered, “as they are simply fancy shylocks.”

“There has to be a proper regulation, where similar products are regulated in a similar way so long as you are lending to customers or receiving deposits. If you have a banking function, it’s not just about the name; you have to be regulated in the same way or it will lead to arbitrage,” said Dr Njoroge.

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