The Digital Lenders Kenya Association (DLKA) has called out two digital lenders – Okash and Opesa – over their debt collection methods. This follows an outcry from users of the two digital lending applications in Kenya.
The two lenders reportedly leverage shameful practices like calling out on contacts on the customer’s phone book to try and get the borrower to pay back their loans.
“We condemn this illegal and morally questionable behavior and urges Okash and Opesa to cease such practices,” said DLAK Chairman Robert Masinde on behalf of all members.
The association has criticized Opera and Okash of over this behavior which perhaps goes against the Kenyan data protection laws.
“By reaching out to a customer’s contact list, Opesa and Okash rob the individual of basic dignity and consumer rights. This can have long term effects on their psychological well-being and damage relations that may have taken years to build,” Robert Masinde said.
The two digital lenders are owned by Opera a company that went the main street due to its browsing business. However, the company’s main business was hurt after being listed on the NYSE and has sought out alternative ways to make a quick buck – lending.
Fun fact, a report released early January criticized the firm of its predatory loan apps “with short payment windows and outrageously high-interest rates in the tune of ~365-876%!” This went against 2019’s Google Play policies on lending apps and prompted the company to act fast and cover the mess.
On calling contacts on your phone book, this is not new in the whole universe of Opera’s loan apps in Kenya. But this was apparently stopped according to a former employee at the company, said Hindenburg Research, in January.
The latest outcry indicates this practice didn’t stop at all. Central Bank of Kenya has expressed deep interest in the sector’s regulation although some critics view it as “anti-innovation.”
The finance (and health) world is one of the highly regulated sectors and “You cannot open a kiosk anywhere without a license,” said CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge at the time.
The association agreed to the CBK’s regulation call, although we haven’t seen any new developments in that direction ever since.
The Digital Lenders Association comprises of a bunch of lenders including Tala, Zenka Finance, Branch, Aspira, and more.
In a statement sent to TechTrendsKE, Okash has responded to the allegations accusing the DLAK letter having “a series of false and misleading accusations based on social media reports as opposed to factual knowledge about the debt collection process.”
The lender cited their terms and conditions which grants the lender ability to contact a borrower’s “reference number or referee which is contacted only in case the original borrower becomes unreachable.”
Okash doesn’t contact a user’s contact list because “it is not part of the guidelines of the company during the repayment process.”
The company will continue to offer it’s services in accordance with Kenyan laws, said Okash.
Update: Okash response