In a move that may weed out practices that led to the introduction of interest rate capping, the Kenya government has developed a draft Financial Markets Conduct Bill for consumer finance protection.
— Rafe Mazer (@rkmazer) May 22, 2018
Some clauses in the bill of interest:
- Advertising: A person without a financial conduct license cannot put out an advertisement for the provision of credit. This also applies to building owners (billboards?), or in newspapers, magazines, radio, television. Also, lender advertisements must be truthful. They cannot be misleading by deception.
- Credit Limits – cards/overdrafts: Once a credit limit is approved, a financier can’t reduce the credit limits or decline to replace a lost credit card
- Credit Reference: No release of credit reports to unauthorized people
- In-Duplum: There is also roundabout way of reintroducing the in-duplum rule. There is a clause that if a loan goes into default, the interest, fees, and other charges to be repaid cannot exceed the balance of the loan on the day it went into default.
- Insurance: Loans cannot require a borrower to get insurance from a specific company.
- Guarantors: The new laws protect guarantors and requires that they be made aware of all clauses in loan contract before they give guarantees, and with no variation to guarantor terms allowed. This is probably inspired by one guarantor and default dispute involving a cousin of the President that has seen over a dozen cases litigated in several courts over 25 years.
- Pre-Receivership Management: The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) can appoint a person to assist an institution to implement its directives when the CBK believes a bank or its officers are not in compliance with the act. The new law provides tools to assist troubled banks without shutting them down, and CBK can also order some shareholders to wind down their interest in institutions within a specific time.
- Spam messages? Bank shall not communicate marketing messages to customers unless the customer loan agreement authorizes it.
- Statements: Requires all borrowers to be given term sheets before signing for loans, and a copy of the loans contract afterwards. They are also entitled to a free statement every six months and other copies within ten days of a request.
- Variations: loan agreements shall not have clauses to vary interest during the loan, or be based on a different rate other than the reference rate of the lender.
- Wide Regulation: The new laws will apply to all providers of more than fifty loans and issuer of loans have six months to obtain the new licenses. What of loan apps?
Whether this new law which cracks down on unsavoury banking and consumer finance and behaviors will ease out the 2016 interest rate capping law while assuring parliamentarians who championed the setting of maximum interest rates that bank behaviour will be better-regulated remains to be seen. Also if the clauses will help borrowers who have shifted to other more expensive lending platforms regardless of the consumer finance terms and interest rates charged there.
But the bill also creates a host of new financial regulators including; (i) a Financial Markets Conduct Authority (ii) Financial Services Tribunal (iii) Conduct Compensation Fund Board (iv) Financial Sector Ombudsman (v) an Ombudsman Board who may trip over other existing financial regulators.The bill is in the public participation stage and interested persons can send in feedback on its clauses to ps_at_treasury.go.ke before June 5.