The Headache of Dealing With Digital Money Lenders in Nigeria, According to 5 Nigerians

June 30, 2022

There’s a chance that you’ve once received a random message or call — with the caller sounding like they’re at death’s door — informing you that a family member or friend you haven’t even spoken to in years, owes an amount of money and will be disgraced soon. 

On the off chance that you haven’t experienced this, you must have come across some “instant loan” offers.

What’s it like to take loans from some of them? Here’s what these Nigerians had to say:

“I still don’t know how they got all my contacts”

— Omolayo*, 27

I had been getting their promo text messages for a while and since I urgently needed money, I thought to try them out. I borrowed about ₦6k and I think I had to pay a total of ₦8k after 15 days. It was a relatively straightforward process — I had to provide my details, BVN and the details of two guarantors. 

The problem started when I didn’t pay immediately after the 15 days were up. They started calling everybody on my contact list, not even my guarantors. They even threatened to get me arrested.

Thinking about it now, maybe they got the information through my BVN. This whole calling my contacts thing wasn’t communicated to me beforehand. I never paid back, and they didn’t do anything after the calls. I’m still waiting for the promised arrest.

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“It should be illegal.”

— Amaka*, 31

To be fair, I knew the risks when I took out a loan from this app, but I desperately needed the money. I figured that even if I didn’t have it by then, I could borrow the required amount from another lending platform to settle it. 

Things didn’t go as planned, and I started receiving calls from them on the day I was to pay them back. Within a few hours, they began sending messages to my contacts with my name, age and BVN, threatening to post my pictures everywhere the next day and brand me a thief. 

It was so embarrassing to receive calls from my bosses and church members. I eventually paid back and was so happy when I learned that the government had shut them down.

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“Honestly, I blame myself.”

— Femi*, 24

I first heard about this loan app from my roommate at the university. The thing is, I got a text message informing me that this roommate had collected money and was yet to pay it back. It went further to say, “The whole family of [my friend’s name] is not to be trusted. Inform him to pay up his loan because devastating things could be done to his family’s reputation.” 

I didn’t pay attention to it then and forgot to bring it up. Later on, I needed money myself and decided to try them — I figured they only made the threats if people defaulted. I took a loan and paid it back within the time frame. I soon became a regular customer, but the first time I delayed payment for a day, my family members received calls and messages.

The funny thing is that they never apologise for tainting your reputation after paying back. I guess that’s the way it is.

“They still sent texts to take another loan after disgracing me.”

— Linda*, 33

I’m a single mum and the sole provider of my daughter’s needs. I bowed to pressure to take a one-time loan when I urgently needed to sort out my daughter’s school fees. The interest was quite high — I think about 20% — and I was to pay it back after three weeks. 

When the date approached, I realised I needed more time, and I tried to see if I could extend it, but it just wasn’t happening. When I missed repayment by one day, they texted me that they would publish my obituary. I thought it was a joke. 

They started threatening my contacts and disturbing them with persistent calls. It was a nightmare. People that hadn’t bothered to check on me and my child for years now knew we were in trouble. 

When I eventually paid, I swore never to have anything to do with them again. A few days later, they sent me another text asking to get “instant collateral-free loans.” They should hold it.

“It’s still a business.”

— Joe*, 26

I regularly take loans from these online guys because I run a monthly joint savings thing with some friends. My salary doesn’t come in regularly, and I sometimes have to rely on these loan apps to meet the monthly savings deadline. 

I always keep to repayment time, so I haven’t had any ugly experiences. I think they go to these lengths just to secure their money back. I’ve gotten messages informing me about friends or colleagues that defaulted, and though I agree that most are too extreme, I figure they just do what they gotta do.


*All names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

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