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NAMFISA detects 27 unregistered cash loans over-charging clients

by Rodney Pienaar

The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) has detected 27 unregistered cash loans who are also guilty of over-charging their clients.

The institution’s manager of corporate communication, Victoria Muranda told The Villager that, “In terms of Usury Act, which is the current legislative framework, money lenders are allowed to operate without being registered with Namfisa provided that such entities do not charge in excess if the average prime rate charged by commercial banks in Namibia time 1.6 percent per annum. It therefore follows that unregistered cash lenders are allowed to operate as long as they adhere to the finance charge limitation of 17.20 percent per annum.” 

She added that Namfisa scrutinizes social media platforms and local newspapers to detect the operations of unregistered lenders and to determine the rates charged. In addition Namfisa relies on members of the public to blow the whistle on unregistered entities. 

Muranda further explained that, in the pursuit to ensure protection, Namfisa usually issues public notices to alert the public on dealings of unregistered lenders and undesirable practices that they are involved in, such as cash lenders insisting on a membership prior to disbursing loans. 

Namfisa inspected about 19 unregistered lenders during 2016 and 2017, after which the lenders were directed to adjust their finance rates to the allowable rate of 17.20 percent per annum. 

“Namfisa has performed re-calculations of all loans disbursed by unregistered lenders to determine what the over-charged amount was, the difference between allowable rate of 17.20 percent per annum and the rate charged by the unregistered lender. The lenders were directed to immediately cease micro lending business to adjust the interest rate to 17.20 percent per annum or to register with Namfisa,” Muranda has said. 

She further said that lenders were directed to furnish Namfisa with refund plans indicating how over-charged borrowers would be refunded with regular updates confirming the receipt of refunds by borrowers. 

“Make sure that the contract you sign contains no unfilled blank spaces and pay attention to pre-checked boxes in the contract as they could bind you to terms you don't want. Always make sure everything you were promised verbally appears in writing and do not be pressured into signing the contract if you are not yet ready or comfortable, she said.