The advent of technology and the internet have made the creation of online loan platform easy. Lending has been made possible by technology platforms thereby making brands scrambling for prospective customers
Online loan platforms were first created by non-bank owners who act as brokers, collecting a fee to match borrowers with lenders and offer them multiple loan options to compare. They pose a real threat to the profitability of traditional lenders.
Most of the online loan platforms used the instrumentality of advertising to generate demand for their value proposition. Interestingly, advertising is structured to question values. The modus for an ideal professional practice structures the entire process of advertising on seeking answers to question of value; the real and derivable value of own brand, that competitive consideration of own-brand versus competing offering, the who for the offering, market expectation, size of market in view of the rated offering or proposition, etc.
As a profession, it is structured to deliver on value, such that its efficiency and effectiveness are by themselves demonstrative of the systematic application of set rules leading to operative standard. Therefore, among others, value expectations from advertising practice and products must deliver on clarity of message, credibility of information, dependability, and instructional guide. Advertising messages must engage stakeholders on the very critical value touch-point of credibility and reliability. It is on the basis of credibility and reliability that a consumer can assuredly make rewarding buying decision at the market place.
In order to maintain sanity, every government set up regulatory mechinary to checkmate advertising. In Nigeria, however, the advertising practitioners council of Nigeria (APCON) which is saddled with the responsibility of vetting advertising does not have the required tools to regulate online advertising.
This inadequacy of APCON has made FASTMONEY an online loan platform to keep on enjoying a cloud of darkness that shields it from reckoning, such that gives it the undue advantage over other offerings when it comes to value consideration. Whereas its engagement is predicated on value rating and proposition, it does not go through the scrutiny of evaluation. The shield for it is embedded in glamour and noise so much so, the dint deafen and blinds even those who should call it to question.”
Brands such as FASTMONEY have taken undue advantage of the above situation to misrepresent Consumers. In most cases, their terms and conditions are not readers friendly and a desperate Consumer will subscribe to it innocently.
Unlike other brands, FASTMONEY will approve a loan to a customer without a period of grace. For example, a customer who spoke to CONSUMERS ASSEMBLY on a condition of anonymity said, “my loan of six thousand naira was due and I I promised to pay before the close of the due date. Just because I was in a meeting with Bank of Industry and could not pick calls, FASTMONEY started sending messages to my contacts tagging me criminal at large with huge amount of company’s money.”
According to him, “the message rattled my friends and family members most of whom after explaining things to them, asked me to institute an action against them in the court of law, a process I have started already.” He added
Another customer who reached out to CONSUMERS ASSEMBLY on how FASTMONEY dragged his name to the disrepute because of twelve thousand naira which he never said he will not pay described the brand as scandalous.
According to him, “there are other online loan brands who give better loan than FASTMONEY but will never tagged a customer a criminal because of his or her inability to pay loan as an when due. But FASTMONEY will tagged a customer criminal without a court verdict.” He noted
This customer told CONSUMERS ASSEMBLY that, “FASTMONEY invaded his account and cleared the remaining balance in his account. Now, the question is, he continued, if FASTMONEY has access to my account and can clear my balance, why tagging me criminal via text message? He asked.
To this end, regulatory agencies must ask FASTMONEY questions, institutional stakeholders must take responsibility towards protecting the consumer against poor brand offering, and consumers must protect themselves against bad advertising products. Every advertising message must be put to the test to ascertain its level of credibility.
CONSUMERS ASSEMBLY made several attemts to reach out to FASTMONEY as at the time of filling this report, but there was no response from them.
Meanwhile, Consumers Assembly is encouraging every customer whom FASTMONEY has blackmailed to reach out for a possible legal action as discussion with group of lawyers is ongoing against FASTMONEY.