Can anything really top that one time when a local lender in China put the names and information of debtors on an electronic billboard? Probably not; that wins gold at the debt-shaming Olympics every day and twice on Sundays. However, something eerily similar - albeit less sophisticated and more crude - is progressing unchecked closer to home.
The unending debate around instances of unwholesome practice and outright malpractice associated with digital lending platforms in Africa is observedly loudest in Kenya. The country did seem like the ‘Wild West for quick loans’ for quite some time, but that’s changing fast as local regulators step up efforts to keep mobile lenders in line and weed out predators.
As things stand, the new Wild West for quick loans is Nigeria, it seems. And unlike Kenya where regulation and legislation are more or less tackling the issue at this point, a ‘loan shark plague’ has quietly infested Nigeria.
An ever-expanding band of obscure and under-regulated (or unregulated) mobile lenders is mushrooming with a ‘no-holds-barred’ play in Nigeria while the authorities seem determined to look the other way.