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COVID-19 Response:  Mastercard to Connect 1Bn People, 50m Small Businesses, 25 Million Women Entrepreneurs to the Digital Economy by 2025

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The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 have highlighted the critical need to support vulnerable populations, many of whom are disproportionately impacted.

In this time of global crisis, Mastercard has expanded its worldwide commitment to financial inclusion, pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025.

As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.

The extended commitment builds on Mastercard’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 related health and economic challenges facing individuals all over the world, including in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Raghav Prasad, Mastercard’s Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, “Financial inclusion remains key to unlocking the potential of Sub-Saharan Africa, and will become crucial as we support Governments in driving long-term, sustainable economic recovery.

“Digital transactions are both safe and efficient and giving access to these for as many people as possible, is an important part of supporting the most vulnerable parts of the population through the current situation.

“Our focus right now – beyond philanthropy – is to steadfastly continue collaborating  with governments and private sector partners on solutions that are safe, viable, and most importantly, socially impactful for communities across the region.”

At the 2015 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Mastercard committed to bring 500 million excluded individuals into the financial system.  It achieved that goal through more than 350 innovative programs across 80 countries.

The Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion – the technology company’s first lab focused on financial inclusion – is committed to empowering millions of Africans through the use of public-private partnerships, and the innovation of locally relevant technology solutions.

One such solution is the Mastercard Farmer Network, a mobile platform that improves market access, increases price transparency and digitizes payments to connect small farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

East Africa is also served by Kasha, an e-commerce platform optimized for women’s health and personal care. It offers confidential and convenient service, online/offline digital ordering and delivery to both urban and low-income rural areas.

In Uganda, Mastercard launched Kupaa in partnership with UNICEF Uganda and the country’s Ministry of Education. It enables parents and caregivers to pay school fees and other school expenses with their mobile phones securely, easily, and in small payments when they are able, easing the burden of lump sum payments.

Mastercard also expanded its partnership with Unilever to create Jaza Duka (fill up your store) – a digital program for micro-merchants in Kenya with more than 18,000 duka owners already registered.

The program provides a micro-credit eligibility recommendation to Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), which can then assess a retailer’s credit worthiness and extend credit for stock purchases.

Additional efforts include ongoing work on government disbursement solutions, wage digitization of private sector workers, solutions for gig workers, scaling efforts with fintechs, digital platforms and digital wallets/apps, solutions addressing needs of the financially vulnerable and the expansion of CityKey and Community Pass programs.

 

This announcement builds on Mastercard’s ongoing efforts to support an inclusive recovery by leveraging the company’s technology, capabilities and reach.

 

That work includes:

  • In the first weeks of the global health crisis, Mastercard committed up to $25 million in seed funding to establish the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and others to help speed up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by discovering, developing and scaling-up treatments for deployment around the world.

 

  • Mastercard has committed $250 million in financial, technology, product and services support over the next five years to small businesses in many markets where it operates, supporting the vitality of businesses and the financial security of their workers.

 

  • Mastercard is leveraging its network to provide support to governments around the world in a range of areas. This includes providing data insights to inform policymakers about the economic impact of the pandemic; increasing the speed and efficacy of aid disbursements to communities and business segments that need it most; developing donation platforms to enable emergency fundraising; and working with governments to assist business owners and consumers with cyber vulnerability assessments.

 


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Coker Predicts Increased Investment in Digital Infrastructure

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Ayotunde Coker, chief executive officer, Rack Centre has said that Nigeria will see high quality in digital infrastructure because of the realisation of its importance.

He noted that building infrastructure was a long-term project; and that the country had already started from a ‘good place’ with the existence of world-class data centres like Rack Centre.

Coker spoke at the recent BusinessDay Digital Dialogue sponsored by Rack Centre. The dialogue also featured panellists such as Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO of Venture Garden Group; Omowale David-Ashiru, Vice President, Global Operations at Andela; and Juliet Ehimuah-Chiazor, Country Manager of Google Nigeria.

Bunmi Akinyemiju said it would also depend on how the government responds with policies and regulations.

Bold regulations that are forward-looking and progressive would show the extent of seriousness and how far the country would go in adapting to the new normal in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.

Akinyemiju, also said the pandemic would likely accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and enhance collaboration across the African continent.

Speaking about the opportunities that African countries could draw from the effect of Covid-19, Ehimuah-Chiazor said the virus that is ravaging the entire world, presents an opportunity for businesses to reset their models.

“For businesses to successfully pivot to digital, leaders need to examine their business processes, customer engagement, supply chain management and employee engagement,” Ehimuah-Chiazor said.

David-Ashiru said businesses that fail to adapt to the new normal could look forward to becoming part of another company in an acquisition spree that is imminent with post-COVID-19. “Post-COVID-19, there is going to be a lot of acquisitions of businesses that suffered during the crisis,” she said.


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How Cloud Computing Can Drive the Big Data Revolution

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The world is generating more data than ever before. It’s also capturing more of that data than it has in the past. From digital packets running through global networks to information that’s processed by smart devices on the edge of IoT setups, there’s plenty of material being churned out daily.

A report from the year 2019 estimates that about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. This number will continue to grow, as IoT becomes commonplace and we increase our dependence on digital technology.

For most people, these figures are mere statistics. But for many organizations, they represent a vast treasure throve that they can leverage to gain unusual insights into their customers, target markets, and industries.

That’s why big data has become a thing.

What is Big Data?

The term big data refers to large amounts of data that companies receive from their various interaction points—client information, customer service, transactions, market prices, engagement on the web and social media platforms, etc.

‘Big data’ could also apply to the large amount of data that is generated by sensors on an oil rig or by smart machines at a factory site.

Companies can gather these sorts of data, analyze them, and see the trends in the crucial variables. This gives them a picture of what’s going on in various aspects of their operations and lets them make intelligent decisions based on that picture.

For instance, let’s say you have access to data on the thousands of sales made by an ecommerce store within a year. You also have information like the days, time of the day, and months in which these sales have been made.

You could analyze this data and find out things like the times of the day, days of the week, and months of the year in which sales were highest and lowest. It may also be possible to tell how these trends change over time.

These details let you know the peak purchase times. Based on this insight, you can allocate resources away from the less active periods and towards the times with higher traffic. Ultimately, you’ll be able to maximize your sales and returns from those periods.

The more dense and complex the data sets are, the more sophisticated the tools you will need to analyze the data. Besides this, you should also possess certain skills if you’re going to work on large volumes of data.

How Cloud Computing Can Help

In the old days, you could store all your data on your premises—because you weren’t generating a whole lot of it anyway. But today, you’re creating and storing more data, and you can’t hold everything at your site anymore.

This is where the cloud comes in. Instead of trying to expand your physical data centers or procure more storage devices, why not just host all that data on a cloud platform?

Any solution that enables big data computing and analysis must cater to the 5Vs of big data:

  • Volume: The large amounts of data you’re dealing with
  • Variety: The assorted types of data available
  • Velocity: Rate at which data is collected and analyzed in your system
  • Value: The importance you attach to the data based on the information that it conveys
  • Veracity: Establishing the quality and credibility of data

A solid, robust cloud platform takes care of all these needs.

Here’s how.

  1. Scalability

We dropped a hint on this earlier in the article.

The cloud is scalable; you can get your capacity jacked up at short notice. All that’s required is that you pay for the extra compute space. And there’s an almost infinite room you can expand into. You can also scale down if you’re past peak usage, and don’t need a lot of capacity anymore.

It’s something you want to have when you’re dealing with vast amounts of data. It lets you maintain a high level of efficiency over time, regardless of the varying volumes of data you have to deal with at  every moment.

  1. Lower Costs

Many companies are wary of the large costs associated with big data analytics. But thanks to cloud computing, they have more leeway as far as costs are concerned.

The scalability of the cloud—and the subscription model that cloud service providers use –means that organizations only need to spend on what they’ll use. They can raise compute powers to take care of a spike in the volume of data they analyze and pay just the commensurate fees.

That’s better for your budget than purchasing storage capacity upfront, only to find that it’s either too small or too much.

  1. Infrastructure that’s Easy to Manage

Instead of devoting large sums to CAPEX for big data storage, you can house your data on third party infrastructure owned by cloud service providers (Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS).

You don’t have to worry about maintaining infrastructure either; the managed service provider will handle this. If it’s a competent firm, they will have experts who can fix any problems that may arise.

What you do have to watch over is the cloud environment within which you work. Thankfully, some tools can help you strengthen the visibility of your cloud and simplify the management process for you.

  1. Virtualization

Virtualization is something that the cloud allows you to achieve. It involves creating virtual machines, operating systems, and servers, which can run on existing hardware. This lets you increase your data processing capacity without expanding your physical infrastructure. And that’s a boon for your big data aspirations.

Another benefit of virtualization is disaster recovery. You could lose a lot of data in the event of a major disruption to your networks. Virtualization allows you to retain virtual copies of that data, so you can carry on with them even if the original forms are lost.

  1. Frees Up Resources for Innovation

Imagine working on large amounts of valuable data for just a fraction of the cost. Also, imagine having more time to do this because you don’t have to worry about cloud infrastructure. These are gains you’ll derive from cloud computing.

These gains open up even more opportunities when they combine. For instance, your team will have more time and resources to be creative with their data analytics. They can find more patterns, design more solutions, and make better decisions based on their analysis.

Find a Cloud Solutions Provider that Supports Your Big Data Aspirations 

Big data analytics is becoming a firm part of the decision making process for organizations. As your company moves in this direction, you’ll want a solution that takes the burden of managing extra infrastructure off your back.

Layer3 gives you this and more. For many years, we have provided businesses and government agencies in Nigeria with services that help them make the most of their data. From virtual data centers to disaster recovery, our products are tailored to scale up your computing capacity and keep you operating at the highest levels of efficiency.

If you would like to discuss your big data plans with experts who can support them, reach out to us here and we’ll take on your concerns.


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BSA Seeks Support for Remote Economy Post-COVID-19

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Business Software Alliance (BSA) has recommended ways in which governments across the globe can support the remote economy now and in the future.

BSA Seeks Support for Remote Economy Post-COVID-19

Chris Uwaje, chairman, Mobile Software Solution

BSA, which is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace, noted that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are working, learning, and accessing health services from home for the first time.

It stressed that governments, businesses, and individuals are increasingly relying on software to help their communities thrive in the emerging remote economy.

In its Response & Recovery Agenda, the BSA called for strategic initiatives that power the remote economy, maximize public health and safety, and maintain the services that people depend on to work and live.

Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of BSA, said “BSA’s members create the trusted enterprise technology platforms that power the remote economy. People across the globe rely on software to work, learn, run their business, and stay connected with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Building a resilient, accessible remote economy must be a top priority for policymakers working to address the impacts of COVID-19. This agenda offers concrete recommendations to help governments respond to and recover from the pandemic.”

According to the body, COVID-19 has placed enormous pressure on organizations in every sector. BSA said to mitigate public health and economic crises and ensure business continuity in the short term, governments should, among other things ensure IT services remain available by identifying IT workers as essential during any shelter-in-place orders; help businesses sustain software and cloud services for continued business and government operations; maintain and promote strong privacy and cybersecurity practices, including by supporting robust incident response capacity, and remove impediments to remote services, such as quotas and customs duties.

For the economies to recover, the Software Alliance said an effective and inclusive strategy must among others advance universal, affordable, and secure high-speed Internet access by expanding broadband access and deploying and securing 5G networks.

It pointed out that there is need to remove barriers to cross-border collaboration to advance remote health, work, and education by allowing trusted cross-border data transfers, promoting cross-border connectivity, maintaining a secure, reliable, and predictable ICT supply chain, and growing the size of the digital economy. According to BSA, there is need to promote responsible migration to advanced cloud services.

“To lay a secure foundation for the remote economy, governments should adopt cloud services and modernized IT, establish accessible security guidance for cloud migration, enforce clear and consistent privacy standards, modernize regulations for cloud adoption, and support data interoperability and portability.

“Transform the global workforce with improved access to STEM education, new models to retrain and upskill workers, support for industries to adopt technologies that facilitate remote work, and promotion of smart long-term remote work policies. Together, these policies can help create tech job opportunities outside of traditional hubs,” BSA stated.

Joining this call, Chris Uwaje, chairman, Mobile Software Solution, who stressed the need for improved software ecosystem in Nigeria, said: “Nigerian government should priotised national software ecosystem, which has enormous potentials to create wealth, sustain national development and security of life and property.”


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