While digital lending apps conveniently offer quick loans in minutes, the harassment and bullying that follows has become a common issue for many Kenyans who borrow from the apps during emergencies.
A Twitter user going by the handle @BigsmallKe recently shared his ordeal at the hands of a popular lending app, Zash Loans which belongs to the bigger KopaKash company.
The tweep narrates that he just landed himself a new job, and needed to relocate immediately. He was short of Sh5,000 to facilitate his move, and Zash loan came in handy, offering him Sh3,500 to be repaid in seven days.
As is the norm with the apps which are also know for charging exorbitant fees, Sh750 was deducted from the final amount the borrower received, leaving him with Sh2,750.
About three days to the due date, @BigSmallKe recounts that he started receiving about five phone calls every 30 minutes reminding him to clear the loan.
The collection lady he spoke to started threatening him, saying she would call all his phone book contacts including his boss and mother in law if he did not clear the loan.
“She further threatened to send messages to all my family and friends in my phonebook.” The tweep says in his thread.
The following day, two days to the due date, @BigSmallKe woke up to seven different WhatsApp messages from different numbers. This time, he was given a one hour ultimatum to clear the loan, failure to which they would photoshop him on a wheelchair, create a WhatsApp group and add all his contacts to help him fundraise for the Sh3,500 loan.
A day to the due date, the collection agents made good their threats, and sent out a message to his contacts saying:
‘Jambo ambia (name withheld) alipe loan yake ya ZASH LOAN la sivyo tutamchukulia atua za kisheria’
(Hallo, tell (name withheld) to clear his loan with Zash loan, otherwise we shall take legal action against him.)
“This text caused alot of panic to my parents,” @BigSmallKe recounts.
They also sent one to his girlfriend saying:
“ambia huyo boyfriend wako maskini alipe loan au tumtumie police mshikwe”
(Tell your poor boyfriend to pay his loan or we send the police to him)
@BigSmallKe’s stressful ordeal finally came to an end after his friend contacted him and helped him clear the loan.
He is now appealing to the Central Bank and data protection regulators to crack their whip on such greedy and unregulated digital lenders.
The borrower describes his experience as “tough and embarrassing”, saying many Kenyans go through depression because of this cruel lenders.
Last week, the Data commissioner’s officers which is mandated with the protection and regulation of Kenyans’ data said it was investigating 67 lending apps which had been reported for allegedly breaching users’ data.
The Data Protection Act prohibits sharing of confidential information without Consent. Individuals also have a right to be told when and why their data is being shared.
Breach of terms under the data protection act attracts a fine of Sh5 million or a jail term not exceeding 10 years, or both.
Below is the full thread:
Digital lending apps thread
I had an emergency I had just received a job offer & wanted to relocate urgently so I was short of cash of about 5k ..had no option but to try my luck with online lending app by the name Zash loan…so I applied for the loan…#Zenkaloans
— 🌟ParrotKe🌟 (@BigSmallKe) November 23, 2021