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Digital Economy in the Sub Saharan Africa

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Growth of the digital economy which can be defined as the various economic and social activities powered by ICT including banking, buying and selling and accessing education and entertainment activities via the internet through connected devices in Africa at large has tremendously increased giving a positive outlook of the continent. This has been possible through factors such as improved data connectivity, increase affordability of smart devices and falling data prices that have played a major role of fueling the digital economy in the region.

According to Ericsson, a giant technology company: In the two years to early 2015 there was a double increase to the number of mobile data traffic. It is forecasted that there will be a twelve fold increase for data in the next five years which has encouraged the growth in number of operators of data service and a boost in their earnings. For instance, the MTN Group with operations in around nine countries of the Sub Saharan Africa reported a 27 percent data revenue share of the total revenue in 2016 which was a 4 percent rise from the previous year as per the data reports posted on the company’s website and reported by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

According to GSMA, the number of SIM cards in use reached 731 million at the end of 2016 in the Sub Sahara and the number is expected to rise to nearly one billion by 2020 with an increase of broadband connections to half a billion which is more than double the number at the end of 2016. Smartphone connections have also doubled over the last two years to about 200 million with a strong growth in demand in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and DR Congo.

With the growth of internet users across Africa, mobile money services are significantly raising financial inclusions and easing the cost of conducting business making the Sub Saharan Africa a global leader on the use of mobile money as a primary means of financial transactions. All this has indeed offered new opportunities for productivity and efficiency gains to national governments, businesses and individuals. The mobile money platforms have enabled financial transactions through the transfer of money from one party to another either in the form of cash, mobile money or mobile payments enabling consumers make purchases of goods and services such as phone credit, water, electricity and other household utilities.

A Digital Economy offers Africans the knowledge of leveraging technology to make lives better by enhancing understanding of markets, expansion of education systems and creation of employment to grass root levels and still deliver monetary benefits for the informal sector and government. Today, customers use their phones for almost every single service or task therefore through this technological empowerment SME’s can better monitor and cater to their customers wants and needs.

Putting in place all the factors and pillars to strengthen Africa’s digital economy is worthy. From the recommendable growth of African nations GDP’s and other parameters of measuring national wealth and income it is certain that it plays a major role in unlocking Africa’s potential.

HMD launches its 4G LTE Android Nougat-powered Nokia 8 in Kenya & Nigeria

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HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, has announced the availability of Nokia 8 in Kenya at Ksh 59,999.

Nokia 8 is available in Tempered Blue and Steel and comes has Qualcomm® Quick ChargeTM 3.0 for quick charging.  The phone has a Snapdragon 835 processor and is secured with biometric fingerprint authentication.

The 4G LTE phone is available in Single SIM and Dual SIM and runs on Android Nougat 7.1.1.  The phone is powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile chipset and has a 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory with external MicroSD card slot (support up to 256 GB). The phone has a 3090 mAh battery and weighs just 160g.

Nokia 8 has ZEISS optics and has a world-first in enabling Dual-Sight video to be livestreamed natively and in real-time to social feeds such as Facebook and YouTube. Dual-Sight simultaneously harnesses both the front and rear cameras in a split screen visual for both photos and videos. The  Nokia OZO Audio brings a fully immersive audio experience to your 4K video.

4.6mm thin at the edge and just 7.3mm slim on average, Nokia 8’s seamless unibody is precision milled from a single block of 6000 series aluminium and its pure design has been refined through a 40-stage process of machining, anodizing and polishing. Select models feature a high-gloss mirror finish that has taken over 20 hours to complete to achieve a flawless look.

Featuring OZO Audio, Nokia 8 combines three microphones with exclusive Nokia acoustic algorithms to capture audio with immersive 360° spatial surround sound. Share your 4K videos with OZO Audio anywhere – binaural codecs enable high fidelity playback even on devices without OZO Audio.

Powered by the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform, Nokia 8 doesn’t compromise on performance. The Nokia 8 have been co-developed with ZEISS optics for an optimum all round experience.

 

Key specs for Nokia 8

  • Networks:

 

  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900
  • LTE:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 39, 40, 41
  • Network speed: LTE Cat. 9, 3CA, 450Mbps DL/50Mbps UL
  • Available in Single SIM and Dual SIM
  • OS: Android Nougat 7.1.1
  • Chipset: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform
    • MSM8998 (4* 2.45GHz Qualcomm® Kryo™ + 4* 1.8GHz Kryo)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB internal memory with external MicroSD card slot (support up to 256 GB)
  • Form factor: Splashproof IP54 touch monoblock with capacitive system keys
  • Display: 5.3” IPS LCD QHD 2560 x 1440, 700nts screen brightness, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5, 2.5D Glass
  • Camera with ZEISS optics:
    • Primary camera: 13MP (Colour + OIS) + 13MP (Mono), 1.12um, f/2.0, 76.9˚, PDAF, IR range finder, dual tone flash
    • Front facing camera: 13MP PDAF, 1.12um, f/2.0, 78.4˚, display flash
  • Battery: Integrated 3090 mAh battery with Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 compatible (18W, 5V/2.5A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A)
  • Dimensions: 151.5 x 73.7 x 7.9mm (camera bump 0.4mm)
  • Weight: 160g

 

 

3 Online Security Measures Everyone Should Take

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The online world is magnificent. Its near-infinite amount of data has created a reality in which everyone has endless resources, nothing is too ambitious, and community is easy to achieve.

Of course, once you step back into the offline world, the web can seem like a den of tigers. All of its benefits come with major risks: your very identity is vulnerable. It is impossible to use the internet with a foolproof guarantee that you won’t be tracked. Everything is linked, and you’ll leave a digital trail no matter how hard you try to erase it.

Nonetheless, there are security measures you can take to make the web that much more safe. These are 3 online security guidelines you need to follow.

  1. Get a VPN… now

Are you currently using a VPN (virtual private network)? If the answer is no, I recommend you stop reading and take action immediately. That might sound a little drastic. After all, you’re simply reading an article right now. This won’t compromise your safety. However, because our entire lives are now online, the risk of a hacker tracking you and stealing your very identity is a possibility no matter what you’re using the internet for. Just the act of typing itself can be tracked, leaving you vulnerable every time you enter credit card details, passwords, and even shipping details.

A VPN encrypts all your data online, and hides your location. This goes a long way to making it difficult for hackers to target you. And while it is not fail-proof, the fact that you’re more secure than most web users will discourage hackers from bothering. Make sure you read some VPN reviews before choosing the best option.

  1. Use a password manager

Password managers have their pros and cons. The pros are, of course, that you get strong passwords that you don’t need to struggle to remember, you can use unique passwords for every site, and you don’t need to type in your password each time. With hackers able to get control of your keyboard, that last can be essential.

The major con is that, if the provider is hacked, your data might be at risk of falling into the wrong hands. And, unfortunately, this has happened before. Despite this, if you choose a reliable password manager, you’re almost certainly safer. Even if they get hacked, they have measures in place to immediately inform you and provide measures to allow you to change your login details without delay.

  1. Don’t use dodgy websites

This might be a hard sell. Websites like The Pirate Bay and ProjectFreeTv make it possible for those of us in African countries to access content that is simply not available here. However, they come with significant risks. These websites are rife with malware and viruses lurking around every corner. You are immediately at risk when you make the decision to use these web pages.

I understand if you’re not willing to give up on the content you’re already invested in. A good alternative might be to sign up for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. and use a VPN to make it appear that you’re in a different location. If you do decide to use dodgy websites, make sure you’re using a VPN and don’t ever offer them your credit card details.

DumaPay adds mVisa, simplifies online payments using Email Pay to take on Mula

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Direct pay Online Group has revamped its little known payments app Dumapay pairing the card reader and the merchants’ phone using Bluetooth to help merchants save time every time they want to make a sale.

The company said through a statement that merchants will also enjoy the DUMAPAY app 2.0 as it comes with a more detailed transaction history and they will be able to know which payments were accepted and which ones failed in real- time.

Dumapay is taking on Cellulant’s Mula which is proving to be a hit with over 10,000 installs compared to Dumapay’s less than 100 downloads. The revamped app will see merchants receive instant payment transactions through Quick Pay or email Pay in real time via Visa, Mastercard, American Express, M-PESA, Airtel Money, MTN Money and Tigo.

The revamped app will also allow merchants to receive payments in multiple currencies and show them their transaction history via the app to track payments going in and out.

Direct pay Online Group says the new DUMAPAY version 2.0 supports multiple payment options in Africa and merchants using the app will be able to accept card, e-wallets and mobile payments such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, M-PESA, Airtel Money, MTN Money, Tigo and mVisa.

“This new version of the DUMAPAY payments app ensures that our merchants are efficient and offer greater security when dealing with customer information. It also opens them up to accept payments from all major credit cards, mobile money and e-wallets” Eran Feinstein, the DPO Group CEO stated.

 

Expanded Markets, affordable phones spur mobile telephony growth in Kenya

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Expanded markets by service providers and availability of affordable phones are some of the factors that continue to spur mobile telephony growth in the country. This is according to the Communications Authority report of the fourth quarter for the financial year 2016/17.

According to the report, the number of mobile subscriptions stood at 40.2 million, marking a 2.8 per cent growth from 39.1 million subscriptions recorded during the third quarter. When compared to the same period of the previous financial year, a growth of 1.2 per cent was realized. Consequently, mobile penetration rose by 2.5 percentage points to stand at 88.7 per cent up from 86.2 per cent recorded in the previous quarter.

However, this was a decline of 1.3 percentage points in comparison to the same period of the previous financial year. This is mainly attributed to the review of base population upwards to 45.4 million from 44.2 million as per Economic Survey 2017.

“The quarter under review saw only three operators’ record marginal changes in their market shares. Safaricom Limited registered an increase of 0.7 percentage points to stand at 72.6 per cent from 71.9 per cent recorded in the previous quarter. Finserve Africa Limited market share rose to 4.6 per cent during the period under review from 4.4 per cent posted in the third quarter.”

“Airtel Networks Limited registered a decline of 1.0 percentage points to record a market share of 15.3 per cent from 16.3 per cent. Telkom Kenya Limited, Mobile Pay Limited, and Sema Mobile Services market shares remained unchanged over the quarter to stand at 7.2 per cent, 0.2 per cent and 0.0 per cent respectively, ” read part of the report.

The total number of mobile subscriptions recorded by Safaricom Limited during the quarter under review stood at 29.2 million which marked an increase of 3.9 per cent up from 28.1 million subscriptions recorded in the previous period. The number of pre-paid and post-paid subscriptions was registered at 28.1 million and 1.0 million respectively.

Airtel Networks Limited posted a total of 6.1 million subscriptions down from 6.3 million registered during the preceding quarter. This translated to a decline of 3.4 per cent during the period under review.

Finserve Africa Limited registered a positive growth of 8.0 per cent to post 1.8 million subscriptions during the period under review from 1.7 million recorded in the preceding quarter. Likewise, Telkom Kenya Limited total subscriptions rose by 3.4 per cent to stand at 2.89 million from last quarter’s 2.80 million.

Mobile Pay Limited reported a total of 87,786 subscriptions during the period under review up from 86,724 posted in the previous quarter while on the other hand, Sema Mobile Services recorded a decline to post 263 subscriptions from 295 recorded in the previous quarter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile Commerce and Data Uptake on the Rise in Kenya

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Payment of goods and service through the mobile money transfer platforms hit Ksh692 Billion in the three months to June, the latest sector statistics report (PDF) by Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) indicates.

The value of KSh.692 billion is quite significant compared to Ksh102 billion in December 2015, when the industry regulator first captured these statistics in its quarterly reports. The number of mobile commerce transactions stood at 316.5 million.

Person to person transfers were valued at Ksh. 541.8 billion.

The report covering April/June 2017, indicates that the number of mobile money subscriptions stood at 28.0 million while the number of agents was registered at 180,657.

During the quarter under review a total of 480.5 million transactions (withdrawals and deposits) valued at KSh. 1.2 trillion were made.

“The positive growth witnessed in the mobile money transfer service was largely driven by the widespread use of mobile money solutions and adoption of the service among traditionally underserved groups (rural populations), and increasingly broad range of mobile money services (including insurance and loan products) in Kenya,” reads part of the report.

Mobile money has become an integral part of commerce in Kenya over the past decade. It has evolved to become a loan disbursement tool, adding to other uses such as peer transfers, betting, as paying for shopping, utility bills (water, rent and electricity), school fees, and receiving dividends.

The Internet/ data market segment experienced positive growth during the financial year 2016/17 with total number of Internet subscriptions hit 29.6 million, translating to an increase of 15.2 per cent from 25.7 million in the previous quarter.

“The growth was driven by 15.3 per cent increase of in mobile data subscriptions to 29.4 million at the end of the quarter, which accounted for approximately 99 per cent of the total subscriptions,” the report noted.

The Authority in the report also said the increase of mobile data subscriptions could be attributed to continued fall in the costs of smartphones coupled with the widespread availability of the handsets.

The number of data subscriptions grew by 9.9 per cent in this period when compared to the same period of the previous year.

The total number of terrestrial wireless data subscriptions recorded an increase of 30.5 per cent to post 47,231 subscriptions at the end of the quarter under review up from 36,104 subscriptions registered in the previous quarter.

When compared to the same period of the previous financial year, there was a two fold increase which the quarterly report attributed to the licensing of new players in the market during the financial year.

Fixed Digital Subscriber Line(DSL) data/Internet subscriptions rose to 2,715 during the period under review from 2,452 subscriptions reported in the third quarter marking an increase of 10.7 per cent. However when compared to the same period of the previous year there was a decline of 11.4 per cent over the year.

Fibre optic data subscriptions stood at 54,700 subscriptions up from 48,040 subscriptions registered during the previous period while broadband subscriptions were recorded at 15.4 million up from 13.7 million posted in the preceding quarter representing a growth of 12.6 per cent.

The broadband penetration thus stood at 34.2 per cent as at the end of quarter under review up from last quarter’s 30.4 per cent

Fixed broadband speeds of greater than or equal to 256 kbps recorded the least number of subscriptions while those above 2 Mbps recorded the highest number of subscriptions during the period under review. The same trend has been observed from quarter-to-quarter.

Airtel Money launches M-Fanisi, a savings & loan facility to take on M-Shwari & KCB M-Pesa

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Kenya’s Maisha Microfinance Bank has partnered with Airtel Money to launch M-Fanisi – a savings and loan mobile money solution targeted at Airtel Money subscribers to help them save and borrow money via their mobile phones.

According to Prasanta Das Sarma, Managing Director of Airtel Kenya, “This partnership offers Airtel Money customers more for less, in that they can borrow affordably and save at competitive interest rates, in addition to enjoying the lowest charges on voice and data services in the market.”

M-Fanisi says it’s key competitive features include access to loans repayable within 7 days, 14 days and 30 days at an attractive one-off facility fee of 3%, 5% and 7.5% respectively with excise duty applicable on the fees.

Fixed deposit accounts can be opened for a period of 1 to 12 months and earn attractive interest of between 8.50% p.a. to 11.25% p.a. depending on period. Savings accounts opened earn interest of 7% p.a and money transfered in and out of the M-Fanisi to Airtel Money is FREE.

The two firms with developer Blue Sky Consultants says they have signed up over 50,000 accounts with over 20,000 loans accessed already at an average of up to 2000 loan applications per day but we are having a hard time believing them.

Airtel Money is technically dead and it won’t be of any use to Maisha Microfinance’s M-Fanisi. Airtel has just 1.7 million monthly active users out of its 6.3 million subscribers as at March 2017 down from 6.8 million subscriptions in December 2016 compared to Telkom Kenya’s 2.8 million and Safaricom’s 28.1 million customers according to a March 2017 quarterly report by Kenya Communications Authority. 

Instead of partnering with struggling Airtel, Maisha Microfinance would have just launched a smartphone app to take on Tala and Branch which are open to both Safaricom’s M-PESA and Airtel Money subscribers. The partnership is likely to turn out to be the most unfruitful decision in the micro-finances lifetime.

Maisha Microfinance Bank also opened its third Branch and rolled out of the M-Doh (doh is old school street slang for money) a mobile-based application that allows customers to carry out all their banking needs, including making deposits and transfers and paying utilities.

 

 

 

Insurance comparison site Afrinsure.com wants to increase penetration of insurance products in Kenya

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Afrinsure is a new online insurance insurance comparison site and marketplace in Kenya promising its users a huge inventory of insurance covers to compare and pick from and save money.

Founded last year by Jaime ter Linden, Afrinsure aims to increase market penetration of insurance products in the country by offering clients excellent services through e-commerce, with the best prices in the industry. The firm says it has partnered with major insurance firms in Kenya to offer the best packages and process claims promptly.

By bringing insurance comparison online and making the quotes available to anyone online, the platform hopes to not only increase the uptake of insurance but as well to increase the reach of the major insurance firms in Kenya and make insurance easy to understand, compare and acquire.

The platform is working with top insurance companies such as Jubilee Insurance, Britam, ICEA, CIC, Resolution Insurance, Kenya Orient among others to streamline the search and purchase of insurance policies online. Afrinsure offers Medical Plans, Travel Plans, Motor Covers and all other classes of General Insurance from a number of top insurance companies in Kenya.

The team says it offers free delivery within Nairobi, expert advice online and free claims support in a move to be the country’s preferred insurance comparison platform with transparent, easy to obtain and accessible information.

Prior to Afrinsure, Jaime ter Linden had launched ForeFinance to help farmers in developing countries to have access to markets and formal credit by providing necessary information from farmer organizations, traders and financial institutions to farmers. With that he hopes to take on platforms such as InsureAfrika, PesaBazaar and CompareGuru among others.

Xiaomi joins Apple and Samsung in the Qi Wireless Power consortium

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When wireless charging was invented, leading technology companies that planned to use it came together to form a standard that would guide them forward. Among the companies included heavyweight like Samsung and LG; together with other players, they formed Qi (pronounced as ‘chee’ like in cheese), a Wireless Power Consortium.  Apple later joined in and there first implementation can be seen in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. There are similar groups for common technologies like USB and Bluetooth.

Xiaomi is the newest entrant to the group. Evidence of this move was found on the Consortium members’ page. People have already started speculating that Xiaomi will have wireless charging feature in the upcoming Mi 7 flagship.

The company has been known to bring leading technological advancements to the masses for cheap. For instance, they have a drone that goes for below $400 while competitors have starting prices that are double that amount; same case goes for smart home products. Xiaomi also debuted the full screen display technology that is now becoming standard, the first phone to have it was the Mi Mix , which just recently got its successor launched.

Treasury set to roll out another M-Akiba despite undersubscription of initial offer

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Kenya’s treasury is set to roll out another M-Akiba offering in the market despite the initial one only managing to attract only 5,988 of the 303,534 investors who had registered.

M-Akiba is a Government of Kenya issued retail bond that seeks to enhance financial inclusion for economic development. Money raised from issuance of the mobile –based infrastructure bond  was expected to infrastructural development projects, both new and on-going.

The first offering helped treasury raise Sh247.75 million, which is 24.78 per cent of their target.

Investors had been invited to bids of up to Sh3.8 billion for the bond whose minimum investment is Sh3,000. The latter is unlike other conventional offerings whose minimum value is Sh50, 000.

The Business Daily reports that Treasury secretary Henry Rotich blames prolonged political uncertainty for the 25 per cent subscription of the Sh1 billion offering, which was on sale between June 30 and September 11.

“By and large, we saw a lot of people registering, but they did not take it up partly because people were busy with electioneering period and investment was not so much a focus. The timing was another issue and we should have done this probably after elections,” said Mr Rotich.

“But it is a continuous product and we will continue to come to market because Kenyans now know it more.”

The three-year retail bond offers a return of 10 per cent payable after every six months.

 

Mobile lender Branch raises $2m to bolster its micro-loans in East Africa

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Micro-lending app Branch has raised $2m (ksh 200m) to bolster its loans to SMEs in Kenya and across the east African region as its loan book hits Ksh 4 billion and demand for loans skyrockets while supply shrinks.

The credit was arranged by Centum-owned Nabo Capital from local investors and fund managers according to Business Daily Africa.

The terms of the deal were not revealed the signifies a shift from normal sources of capital to fintech startups in Africa, and Kenya especially.

In December 2015, Branch became the first African-based startup to raise investment from Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose portfolio includes Facebook and AirBnB, closing a $9.2m Series A round. The mobile-based financial services company has raised over $15m in equity and debt funding to date.

These investment is expected to help it grow its loans portfolio locally as well as take on its competition Tala (formerly Mkopo Rahisi), among others.

“Demand for mobile loans is likely to increase as the caps are shrinking the supply of credit in many traditional avenues,” Daniel Szlapak, director of Africa at Branch told the paper.

In July this year, Branch announced it had disbursed 1,500,000 loans since its launch in Kenya in 2015 and was now eying entry into Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

In Kenya, Branch had 350,000 customers and disbursing nearly $4m  Sh400 million a month. In Tanzania, the firm said it was growing by 30 per cent month over month since the beginning of the year.

“We’ve seen fantastic growth at Branch because we know what our borrowers expect from their financial partner: they want speed, transparency and convenience.We are disrupting the existing lending space by making credit available at the tap of a button, within minutes of downloading the app – no paperwork or collateral necessary,’’ said CEO Matt Flannery.

Branch offers MPesa loans of up to KSh 50,000 via an Android application that can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.

Lending decisions are made by a proprietary credit score calculated by analysing over 2,000 data points on applicants’ phones. New borrowers start out with a loan of up to KSh 1,000 and can grow their credit limit based on their repayment performance on previous loans.

The company’s growth has been spurred by its unique policy of offering lower interest rates to customers who have reached higher credit limits, thereby encouraging repeat uptake.

The firm launched a KSh30,000 loan targeted at Uber drivers and partnered with Jumia to give vendors working capital loans.

FIRS, eTranzact Launch PayFIRS.net to help Government Reach N5 trillion tax collection Target for 2017

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Premier e-payments solution provider, eTranzact International PLC in partnership with the Federal Inland revenue service (FIRS) at an event in Lagos launched a new payment gateway www.payfirs.net to boost tax collection and ensure transparency as part of the mandate to collect N4.89 trillion for 2017.

Payfirs.net allows a taxpayer to pay online or at a bank branch, print receipts and credit notes, track withholding tax payments by partners, verify company details and other services essential to tax collection.

In addition to its custom features, it also has a self-policing feature that removes the complexity of administering certain tax types like withholding tax.

 

The platform which was first deployed to partners earlier in the year has already attracted a significant increase in collections for FIRS allowing it to be opened up to more organisations.

In attendance at the event were the Chairman of FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler, CEO of eTranzact, Mr Valentine Obi as well as bank units heads responsible for collections.

Speaking about the platform, Chairman of FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler said he was excited about how the platform would help simplify tax collection for the country. He charged the banks to ensure massive adoption by them and customers as they have a huge responsibility in the value chain.

Also speaking about the benefits of the platform, Mr Valentine Obi, CEO of eTranzact talked about the unique features which had come from a deep analysis of the entire tax value chain to eliminate barriers to efficient tax collection and payment in Nigeria.

He also explained how the online gateway payment technology and BANKIT payment innovation, have created a tax collection system that is simple to understand and easy to administer in addition to being highly transparent.

 

Looking at the new 9Mobile Logo; the past versus the future

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If any company could stealthily change its brand identity in Nigeria, that company is definitely not Etisalat. In the course of nine years, the telecom giant built a massive base of tenacious fans who always hold it up to the highest standards of quality and taste.

So, when Etisalat renamed itself 9Mobile on July 18, it immediately found itself under an intense spotlight. Although every reviewer immediately accepted the 9Mobile and new logo because their meanings are quite obvious, you couldn’t stop the speculations about the connotations, which have only grown louder since the brand re-launch.

But why is everyone so fascinated by the 9Mobile logo? How is it different from the old Etisalat brand icon? How unique is it in the telecom brand community? We did some comparisons. Let’s go.

Central Icon

The figure ‘9’ in the 9Mobile is unmissable. Even though the company only revealed it a couple of weeks ago, it has become quite well known.  Imposing, unusual, and modern, it does an excellent job of attracting and sustaining audience attention.

However, it couldn’t be more different from the old Etisalat logo. At the centre of that company’s brand icon is a visual device, which we’ve heard them call “The Teardrop”. It’s the centrepiece of the brand’s identity worldwide. Even without the words that usually accompanied it, once you saw the ‘Teardrop’, you knew it was Etisalat. Now, 9Mobile is absolutely done with the ‘Teardrop’.

Uniqueness

Look around—MTN, Glo, Airtel, Ntel. No other brand has a logo that’s as in-your-face as 9Mobile’s. The logo is incredibly confident and solid-looking; it instantly suggests that the brand would have one believe that is exactly who they are. At first we wondered if the 9 in the logo was too large, compared to the ‘mobile’ under it, but then, maybe that’s what the company was going for: an absolutely large 9.

Colours

Here, the difference between Etisalat and 9Mobile may not be so obvious to the casual observer, especially because the dominant colour is green. However, the question is: what shade of green? The 9Mobile green is a tad deeper than the Etisalat green. It’s also closer to the Nigerian green, whose shade reminds you of lush vegetation. Perhaps, this is one way 9Mobile further Nigerianise itself.

9Mobile has dropped the silver/grey in the Etisalat logo, though. Maybe it’s all for the best.

Typography

You’re right: the typeface is not the same. Etisalat used a custom font in its logo design and Neo Tech in its corporate communications, but 9Mobile has something that looks a little close to Neo Tech still obviously different. It may be a custom font, created purposely for 9Mobile. Maybe someday we will know the font used here, in which case, we’ll definitely let you know.

Compatibility

Is this logo right for a company with a ginormous youth following? Is it modern and forward-looking? Will it stay fresh long enough to court the interest of its preferred audience? Does it capture the vigour of Nigerians? Is it Nigerian enough? We think the logo ticks all these boxes. And for that, it’s a perfect fit for 9Mobile.

 

 

Tencent, Amazon & Access Technology Ventures Invest $300 Million into the Essential Phone

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Access Technology Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Tencent Holdings Ltd., Altimeter Capital, Vy Capital and Amazon Inc.’s Alexa Fund have invested $300 million into Essential Products Inc., the smartphone maker founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Android.

Access led the round with $100m and will join the company’s board of directors. Access’s portfolio includes leading technology companies including Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify, Square, Rocket Internet, Zalando, Digital Ocean, Opendoor, and Yelp.

“We are thrilled to work with Andy, one of the preeminent mobile entrepreneurs in the world. His experience, industry knowledge and proven ability to innovate, will help Essential as it develops a complete hardware-software ecosystem that puts users first,” said Pueo Keffer, Managing Director, Access Technology Ventures. “There is consistent demand in the mobile industry for new and enhanced technology which Essential is uniquely positioned to attract.” The investment is consistent with Access’s mandate to invest in and help build foundational companies that touch millions of customers across the consumer and enterprise technology ecosystems.

Today’s investment brings Essential’s total capital raised to $330 million as the creator claims the Essential PH-1 smartphone is set for mass production of the  Essential PH-1 which was unveiled in May and could hit the market soon. The investment from Amazon will help in the distribution of the PH-1 Essential smartphone, a $700 phone with a titanium body and a Ceramic back. The Phone comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 cover glass and is 141.5mm high, 71.1mm wide and 7.8mm thick and weighs 185 grams.

Paystack Encourages Online Payments in Nigeria

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Africa experiences millions of payments every day, but very few happen online. In Nigeria, just about 1% of transactions happen online. The country collected $150 billion in business revenues in 2015, although those transactions were mostly in shops and in physical business establishments. There are many barriers businesses need to face to accept payments online and that’s what Paystack is fixing.

Founded by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi, paystack allows online retailers to offer customers virtually any payment option including paying by MasterCard, Visa, Verve, or directly from a banking account. Online Nigerian businesses can accept payments from anyone in the world. With Paystack, Nigerian businesses can add a significant amount of revenue through online transactions to its economy. Nigeria has a rapidly growing digital mobile economy. Online shopping and payments are expected to increase with 400 million more smartphone connections in Nigeria by 2020.

Paystack simplified the previously difficult customer experience, reduced integration time from an average of 3 weeks to less than 30 mins, and today they can boast of the best transaction success rates in the market.

Consumers do not need to sign up to use Paystack, all that is required is a Mastercard, Visa or Verve debit card to pay on Paystack merchant sites. Merchants on the other hand are required to sign up. However, in order to integrate Paystack to start receiving on their site, merchants will have to fill a “go live” request form to upload their business details for verification.

Depending on how well these details are presented, verified merchants can go live in a matter of minutes to several hours, because the process of verification is done manually. While this may take a bit of time, it is to ensure that compliance is carried out.

Concerning any fees, merchants are only charged on a per transaction basis. In addition to a flat rate of ₦100, between 1.9% and 3.9% of transaction value is deducted for local and international cards respectively. The ₦100 fee is however waived for transactions less than ₦2500.

Paystack’s mission is to transform and overhaul the interaction between business and consumers and to build a payments product for Africa to act as a catalyst for the continent’s online economy.

So far, it’s vision and objectives have been highly publicized. In December last year, Paystack has closed a US$1.3 million seed investment round, with participation from numerous international investors. Then earlier this year, it announced that it hit 1 billion Naira ($3.2 million) in monthly transaction volume from consumers to merchants.  The next milestone, according to the team is ₦10 billion monthly transaction volume.

 

PiggyBank is a Platform That’ll Helps Nigerians Save Their Money

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Savings can be very difficult when done manually. Millennials tend to spend almost everything they earn. Some people still resort to the local savings method of putting money in a box which is totally unsafe. People generally lack the discipline and haven’t imbibed the culture of savings.

Using PiggyBank, a saving platform owned by Sharphire Global Limited, Nigerians can automatically save small amounts of money daily, weekly or monthly depending on the savings target, with the service free to use and minimum effort.  You can add funds to your account at any point you like, whether you just got your salary, received extra income or you just want to put money aside randomly.

They then allow you to withdraw for free on only set withdrawal dates, which take place only four times a year, thereby practically making saving more possible for you by eliminating the temptation to withdraw. Withdrawing outside of the four days attracts a 5% penalty fee on just the amount you are withdrawing.

You can also lock all or parts of your savings in your Piggybank.ng account & receive instant upfront interest of up to 25%. All your funds will be sent back to your Piggybank.ng account on the return date you set.

Piggybank.ng is a product that hinges on existing financial institutions, to manage the funds, while they focus on the marketing and technology layers. All funds are deposited with banks and are insured, with PiggyBank making money from interest accrued.

 

 

Paylater Allows You to Borrow Money Quickly Without any Paper Work

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Paylater, a lending platform operated by a micro-finance bank started out of a desire to help people borrow money quickly, safely and conveniently, all with the use of technology and without the need for any collateral, heavy documentation or face-to-face interaction.

Paylater can be accessed via app and provides small micro loans. The maximum amount people can borrow via Paylater is ₦20,000, while the duration is either 15 days or 30 days. The Paylater App is fully automated, so you immediately see whether you are eligible for a quick loan.

You can see much you’ll have to pay back in real time. Interest is charged at a daily rate of 1% which means that if you borrow ₦10,000 you’ll have to pay back ₦11,500, in 15 days, or ₦13,000 in 30 days.

While logging in they ask you a couple of questions. These are questions on identification like your age, occupation, living habits and income level. They also ask for your account number and BVN.

This is because Paylater needs to verify that the individual applying for a Paylater loan is the same as the owner of the provided bank account so as to automatically deduct their loan repayments on their due date. Questions asked are “how much do you earn?” and “do you have kids”. These questions help them understand if you can pay back your loans before lending out to you. This is to facilitate ease of repayments and eliminate delays with account updates due to the reconciliation issues that can come with cash payments.

Once you have successfully registered, Paylater intelligently determines if you are eligible for a loan and credits your account instantly. When it does you should receive a notification within 24 hours. The best part, is that there is no paperwork involved.

If you can’t repay after receiving money from Paylater, you risk suspension of your account, a bad rating among other credit bureaus and possible legal action. However if you do pay your loan on time, you become eligible to borrow more than the initial ₦10,000 limit any further requested loans.

Concerning matters of security, Paylater  has invested heavily in building secure systems throughout their platform way before disbursing a single loan.

PayDunya Makes Online Payments Easier for Senegalese

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PayDunya is an easy-to-use universal multichannel payment gateway. A young Senegalese by the name of Aziz Yerima created the same because he wanted to revolutionize the e-commerce sector in Senegal and Ivory Coast. PayDunya allows African Internet consumers to make payments through mobile money, money transfer and credit cards. It’s API accepts payments anywhere in the world from all African mobile money wallets (80% of people) and credit/debit cards.

Aziz came up with this concept because when it comes to online payment in Africa, there is no way to pay without a credit card. Mobile money however, provides access to financial services for the unbanked population (80%) in Africa. New services and professions that generated this digital revolution are mainly based online. Africa is still a continent where everything remains to be done and the digital market could be the solution to the increased unemployment experienced by the African populations today. Africa has missed the turning point of the industrial revolution, and should not miss the turn of the digital revolution.

Paydunya proposes a solution to the problem of African Internet users to be able to pay on Internet and we hope that Paydunya will encourage the launch of new startups and business opportunities in Africa.

PayDunya acts as an intermediary, a third party who deals with the connection between the e-business or e-business and its customer for the payment of a service or property on the internet.

Through a partnership with mobile money operators (Orange Money), money transfer services (Wari, Joni Joni, etc.) and banks, national and international payments on the internet are easily carried out. For example, you can go to fabellashop.com to buy cosmetics or on marketcastor.com for your food orders and many others.

If you are a merchant, you can use the PayDunya APIs to charge you directly on your website by your customers. For those who do not have a website or those who want to make sales on social networks, PayDunya offers the Clic and Pay(CnP), which is easy to use to make sales in 1 click and finally if you do services, you can use the Payment Request (DmP) to send an invoice to your customers.

Businesses using this can increase their customer base since they are upto 7,500,000 Internet users. They can also avoid false orders by charging their customers before delivery; avoid problems of insecurity, currencies and counterfeit notes. Enjoy quick cash-flow, automated accounting, and more cash to manage while avoid queues in banks.

For more information click here.

Easypr.ng, Africa’s First Digital Content Distribution Platform Debuts In Lagos

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Easypr.ng, an online marketing and media content distribution platform has launched in Lagos.

Through the platform, individual and corporate organisations in need of public relations and other marketing services can customize required service to suit their budget plans.

It provides access to hundreds of newspapers and online news publishing platforms across Africa.

Companies and individuals looking to distribute press materials such as such as Press releases, news features, interviews and photo news, can create the contents and distribute through the platform by paying a fee depending on the number of media platforms required.

Users can also through the website, www.easypr.ng buy other marketing services such as digital marketing solutions including social media, advertising services, content writing and consultancy services.

Speaking about the solution, Co-founder, Easypr.ng, Afam Anyika said: “Our intention is to make sure that we deepen access to marketing services and at the same time make the process as seamless as possible.

“Through our solution, companies and individuals especially those without an idea on how to start, could get everything that they require from the platform without leaving the comfort of their homes or business places.

“For startups and individuals looking to get their word out there, there is dearth of marketing information available to make informed marketing decisions. That is the gap we have bridged with Easypr.ng. We understand the deep importance of SME’s to the nation and Africa’s economic growth. Put side by side the scarcely available marketing know-how for these businesses, our service aims to bridge the divide with a mission to significantly scale the SME sector in our part of the world, with success being the direct impact on varying economic/ market indicators.

“We not only provide these information, we give you the leverage to run a marketing campaign from the comfort of your house or office without wasting time on meetings and additional fees as seen with marketing agencies. It is more of a Do-It-Yourself for marketing.

“More so, this is the first time we are having an Afrocentric press distribution platform. We have access to hundreds of newspapers and blogs across Africa. And we provide access to these platforms at very cost effective rates. So, no one says you cannot launch a product in Ghana or Kenya while you are still here in Nigeria and at little or no cost. We simply want to sell Nigeria/Africa to the world.”

 

E-pocket is an International Online Payment Platform Born Out of a Lack of Proper Banking Facilities

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While Somaliland is a self-declared state of four-million people, it is not internationally recognized as an independent state. As a consequence, its currency, the Somaliland shilling currently has no official exchange rate.

This makes purchasing anything online, using the dollar or any other foreign currency basically impossible.

Mohamed Dahir, the founder of Epocket, experienced difficulty in buying goods or services online since there is no international bank, MasterCard or Visa. This made it particularly hard paying for online advertising on Facebook to market his businesses.

Part of the problem is Somaliland’s low banking penetration. Mobile money, however, is widely used and relies on US dollars. So Dahir came up with a solution, called ePocket that connects mobile money wallets to international prepaid cards.

Once you have ePocket account you can activate an international prepaid card and load your funds to that account to enable international purchasing and selling.

Customers can reload their international prepaid cards at the comfort of their home, office or wherever they are whenever they need to, so that they can shop (products, entertainment, education, etc), send, receive, pay and get paid online.

ePocket, while still in the product development phase was one of 12 ideas selected to participate in the 2016 Innovate Accelerator programme and competition. While it did not win, Dahir received major exposure and networked with potential investors.

For more information click here.