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Pakistan takes action against dubious online lending

New regulations for digital lending in Pakistan were published by the country’s markets regulator in an effort to stamp out what it called “shady activities” in the South Asian financial sector.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan announced late on Wednesday that non-banking finance companies that extend credit to consumers through digital channels, such as mobile apps, must disclose key fact statements, including the credit amount extended, the APR, the term of the loan, and “all fee and charges.”

Non-banking financial institutions will have to inform their customers of this crucial information through audio or video recordings, as well as English and Urdu-language emails and text messages. The authority said (PDF) that “any fee not contained in key fact statement would not be levied to the borrower.”

The regulator said that “even if the borrower has provided agreement in this respect,” the companies would not have access to the borrower’s phone book, contacts list, or photos stored on the device. (The whole set of rules is available in a downloadable PDF format at this link.)

The document goes on to state that “the lender shall also not be allowed to contact the persons in the borrower’s contact list, other than those who have been specifically authorised by the borrower as guarantors and who have also provided their consent to the digital lender at the time of loan approval.”

The regulator made the decision to take action to “protect the public interest” after it saw an increase in “coercive” recovery tactics, data breaches, and mis-selling by regulated digital lending organisations.

The local fintech business has been devastated by new regulations on digital lending implemented by India, a neighbouring country.