ISLAMABAD: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has briefed the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) on improved regulatory requirements, recently imposed through Circular No. 15 to address the complaints of mis-selling, inflated charges and undue access to customers data.

Senior management of all the licenced NBFCs engaged in digital lending participated in the online session on Saturday.

Giving an overview of the circular’s key requirements, SECP Executive Director Khalida Habib informed the participants that the SECP has imposed restrictions on deducting upfront charges from the lent amount.

Moreover, the lending companies are restricted operating more than one digital app at the Google Play Store or any other platform. However, they can launch different products and schemes under one master app. Companies that are already running more than one app have been asked to identify one master app and shut down the other apps within 90 days.

Companies can only launch different products under one master app

The companies are also required to maintain the confidentiality of user data and provide audit reports of their apps from a PTA-approved IT security audit firm.

Digital lenders are also required to disclose their full corporate name on their mobile applications. SECP’s Additional Joint Director Ahmad Abdul Moiz Khawaja briefed the participants on regulations regarding clear disclosures of loan terms and conditions, requirements of managing credit risk, advertisements, grievance redressal systems and loan collection methods.

He conveyed that NBFC companies cannot change the terms of the loan agreement without the prior consent of the borrower. The representatives of the NBFC asked queries related to the Circular No. 15 issued by the commission for digital lending apps.

The SECP has issued a digital lending licence to Sarmaya Microfinance (Pvt) Ltd, Cashew Financial Services Ltd, Credit Fix Financial Services Ltd, Qisstpay BNPL Private Ltd, Seedcred Financial Services Ltd, Finja Lending Services Ltd, Tez Financial Services Ltd, Abhi Pvt Ltd, Mirco Cred Financial Services Ltd, and Humraah Financial Services Ltd.

However, there are only four NBFCs involved in the digital fin­ancing business, others are mainly business-to-business lending.

Published in Dawn, january 8th, 2023

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