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Debt payers slam CB’s silence on unregulated online lenders

14 February 2024 07:21 am - 14     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Leasing and debt installment payers  voiced concerns over Central Bank’s silence regarding the questionable practices of unregulated online loan providers in Sri Lanka. 

Under the banner ‘Association of Leasing and Debt Installment Payers (ALDS)’, the group asserted that borrowers have no legal obligation to repay loans obtained from these unauthorised online lenders.

“Despite numerous complaints passed over to the Central Bank (CB), there has been no response, leading to suspicions that CB officials may be benefiting from these institutions,” ALDS Deputy Secretary Asanka Sumedha Amarasingha alleged during a press briefing in Colombo recently.

According to Robocash which is rebranded as UNA Financial, the user base of Sri Lanka’s digital lending services have seen a 125-fold increase from 10,600 users in August 2021 to a staggering 1.3 million by November 2023.

Online payday loan providers using social media promotes advertisements offering instant cash loans online within 5-15 minutes, but with sky-high interest rates and high late fees.

Several recent incidents brought attention to illegal collection practices of some of online lending providers.
Amarasingha noted that these loan providers often harass borrowers, their family members and employers on a regular basis as part of their collections practices.

 

“Despite numerous complaints passed over to the Central Bank (CB), there has been no response, leading to suspicions that  CB officials may be benefiting from these institutions” - ALDS

 

According to Cyber Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), some online loan providers collect highly sensitive personal information of borrowers through a link sent to their mobile phones and use such information to harass, insult, and threaten borrowers if there is a delay or non-payment of loans.

Amarasingha claimed that unregulated online loan operations remain illegal in the country. Therefore, the Association advised the public who have obtained online loans from such unregulated online lenders, are under no obligation to repay such loans, although they may choose to do so.

Six online lenders operating in Sri Lanka have formed Digital Alternative Lending Association (DALA) as a company limited by guarantee under the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007 (No. GA00244823) to promote and protect the digital lending business in Sri Lanka. The Association published DALA Code of Conduct for self regulation of the sector.

According to the Association, its members employ more than 400 people with a customer base of  over 750,000 Sri Lankans.
The government is planning to establish a Credit Regulatory Authority under the Microfinance and Credit Regulatory Authority Bill to regulate non-deposit taking lending institutions including  as  digital lenders.


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  Comments - 14

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  • warre Wednesday, 14 February 2024 10:24 AM

    You can blame the Central Bank. But why do people fall into these traps? They must be more proactive when making decisions. The "caveat emptor" applies in this case as well.

    Sivalingam Wednesday, 14 February 2024 02:46 PM

    Dummika peniya drinkers of SL are so gullible.

    Amul Kumara Wednesday, 14 February 2024 02:48 PM

    CB is full of crooks, said the best finance minister of Asia.

    Poverty compels them to take risk of life! Wednesday, 14 February 2024 04:53 PM

    Why would the borrowers knowingly take this risk of assault, intimidation, and humiliation? May be they think they can hoodwink the borrowers! There was an incident of stabbing outside the cashier counter at Colombo General Hospital, when a borrower tried to slip away from the lender without repaying the loan and interest.

    rathu aliya gon aliyek Wednesday, 14 February 2024 05:10 PM

    In Sri Lanka, we vote for dumb idiots and then blame those who got the majority for the failures without blaming ourselves! So no wonder we have citizens who fall prey to such scams.

    Observer Wednesday, 14 February 2024 06:11 PM

    Central Bank Officials are increasingly being accused of non performance or underperformance of their Official Duties ?

    Mahila Thursday, 15 February 2024 02:47 AM

    That is a FULL Load of BULL Waste and Excreta!!? Accuse, all and Sundry for their own Failure and Ineptness - why does not anyone Blame their own Parents, MP's, Ministers, PM and President!!! Operative word - "BUYER BE AWARE OF PERIL"!!?? Laws can Never Replace or Repair Foolishness (Prefer to be SOFT on the VICTIMS), though the last word actually replaced with, “CUNNUNGNESS”!? Cause of all Human EVIL!!!???

    Sam Silva Wednesday, 14 February 2024 07:00 PM

    The borrowers know the risk and they have to face the consequences. However most our people live on borrowed money just like our country. They borrow but don't have means to payback.

    Nikini Jayasinghe Wednesday, 14 February 2024 09:44 PM

    What law prevents private business engagement between two legal persons? There is no law preventing the lending and repayment of loans; it falls within the realm of private commercial contracts. It's concerning how individuals engage in borrowing from unregulated markets and then portray themselves as innocent victims deserving compensation from taxpayers' money. It's akin to engaging in unprotected sex and blaming the government when facing pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

    Mahila Thursday, 15 February 2024 02:49 AM

    ABSOLUTELY, AND UNDOUBTEDLY, ON THE MONEY!

    Sandun Thursday, 15 February 2024 04:23 AM

    Banks are very strict on lending to those who try to invest and for any start up its unofficial money lenders are the only option. If we are to stop them its only through efficient practices by banks to lend to those who need.

    Mahila Thursday, 15 February 2024 11:12 AM

    NO Brainer!!?? Banks handle Depositors' Money and should be Strict, lest they lose Depositors Money, which they hold in TRUST!!?? SL outlook is that Bank Money is Governments and therefore their Money!? NO, that’s wrong Assumption!!??

    EASY TO BLAME BORROWERS, MAJORITY OF THEM ARE POOR DESPERATE INDIVIDUALS Thursday, 15 February 2024 12:31 PM

    MOST PEOPLE TAKING OUT LOANS ARE THE VUNERABLE AND HAVE NO IDEA IF THE LENDER IS REGISTERED OR NOT. DESPERATION LEADS PEOPLE ESPECIALLY THE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT SAVY ON FINANCIAL BORROWING AND LENDING GET TRAPPED. DESPERATION OF HUMANS KNOW NO BOUNDARIES. THE SCAMMERS SET UP 2X4 BY COMPANIES AND OR SOLO TRADERS AND LOAN OUT POSSIBLY ILLEGAL MONEY, WAY OF MONEY LAUNDERING. THE LENDERS SHOULD BARE THEIR LOSS. MY ADVICE DO NOT REPEAT DO NOT PAY BACK ONE MORE RED CENT.

    ANOTHER CENTRAL BANK BLUNDER Thursday, 15 February 2024 12:35 PM

    CENTRAL BANK OFFICIALS SHOULD HAVE MONITORED ALL THESE COMPANIES, BUT THEN AGAIN CORRUPTION AND GREED WAS PROBABLY THE REASON THEY TURNED A BLIND EYE. OTHERWISE, OCCUPIED FEATHERING THEIR OWN NESTS,


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