Privacy compromised as Ugandans rush for instant online loans

Why Commercial Banks in Uganda are adopting online lending

Kampala, Uganda | URN | A section of Ugandans have fallen victim to online loan applications that offer cheap and instant loans. The loans are always available as long as one has access to a smartphone and the internet.

Unlike banks and other financial institutions that ask for collateral to acquire a loan, the instant loan app requires the applicant to have a national identity card and two guarantors.

However, when applying for instant online loans, the applicant does not know that their privacy has been compromised.

When applying for a loan online, there is an option that requires the applicants to allow access to their phone contacts, call logs, photos, and SMS among other things.

Geoffrey Lwabuga Muwulya, a businessman in Bweyogerere dealing in clothes says that he downloaded the “Mangucash” app because he desperately needed money.

Lwabuga says that in order to complete registration, he was required to give consent to the lenders to access his phone contacts and location.

After completing the registration process that lasted four minutes, he received 45,000 Shillings and was supposed to return 60,000 Shillings in seven days.

Lwabuga however says that he was surprised when the creditors started calling people in his phone book asking them to pay on his behalf. “They called and threatened my mother and my siblings that I should pay the loan,” Lwabuga narrates.

Another victim who preferred anonymity said that he received a phone call asking him to pay a loan debt for his cousin.

“I received a call from an unidentified person asking me to pay a debt for my cousin because he had listed me as a guarantor when borrowing money. I was surprised where they got my contact yet the person never gave it to them,” he says.

Paul Ssenoga, a private IT expert explained that whenever someone else gets access to your call log, it exposes the person’s privacy. He adds that the creditors will be in a position to monitor the received, missed, dialed, and blocked numbers.

A former employee of one of the money lending companies who preferred anonymity says that the company would hire agents whose role was to keep monitoring and calling people who were indebted to the company.

Read Also: Why Commercial Banks in Uganda are adopting online lending

Ssenoga advises people not to download any application if it is not important. He finds it unusual why an application operator would need to access your messages in order to give you a loan.

According to the Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019, Section 10, says a data collector, data process, or data controller shall not collect, process, or hold personal data in a manner that infringes on the privacy of a data subject.

Section 13 (1) of the same act also indicates that any person collecting data must inform the data subject about the nature and category of data being collected, the name and address of the person responsible for the collection of data, and the purpose for which the data is required and whether or not the supply of data by the data subject is discretionary or mandatory.