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Namfisa helps aggrieved customers recover millions

The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) has enabled the return of over N$30 million to aggrieved financial services consumers over the last five years.

According to Namfisa’s annual reports, pension funds and short-term insurance companies are the main culprits, who have robbed their customers of a combined N$24 million over five years.

In 2023, between January and March, the regulator also ordered an additional N$2,2 million to be paid back to consumers, and the pension funds and short-term insurance companies again led the pack, with orders at N$1,4 million and N$742 000, respectively.

The regulator says during the first quarter of this year, it received various complaints from consumers of financial services against companies operating in the long-term and short-term insurance industry, the pension funds industry, as well as the micro-lending and credit-agreements industry.

Most of the complaints were resolved amicably, it says, and were largely attributed to delays in the payment of pension benefit claims, the repudiation of funeral claims, non-cancellation of contracts, and delays in the payment of death benefits and refunds.

Complaints can, however, only be lodged when consumers know their rights, and understand the products they are sold.

“Consumer protection is key to our operations, and therefore I encourage consumers to know their rights and responsibilities as users of financial service products,” says Kenneth Matomola, Namfisa’s chief executive.

He says as a regulator, his organisation has a dedicated a consumer complaints department which investigates complaints on behalf of consumers of non-banking financial services and products at no cost to the consumer.

“An aggrieved consumer can lodge a complaint against non-banking financial institutions or financial intermediaries (registered and doing business in Namibia) with Namfisa.

“It is important to note that Namfisa exercises regulatory and supervisory oversight on institutions registered with it and doing business in Namibia,” Matomola says.

The regulator has also urged consumers to only do business with registered entities, and to verify whether a business or entity is registered with the regulator by contacting Namfisa’s offices or visiting their website.

As of December 2021, Namfisa watched over a total of 622 regulated entities and 9 700 intermediaries.

These include 124 pension funds, nine medical aid funds, 350 microlenders, 56 listed and unlisted asset managers, 28 insurance companies and 17 unit trust management companies.

The Namibia Stock Exchange, friendly societies, special-purpose vehicles and reinsurers for long- and short-term insurance are also under Namfisa’s scope of regulation.

These companies have a combined asset value of N$370 billion, much of which sits with pension funds.

Twitter: @Lasarus_A