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Interoperability between mobile money and card is enabling Africa’s access to the global financial system



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By Christian Bwakira, Group Chief Commercial Officer at Onafriq

Mobile money has exploded across African economies as an enabler of financial inclusion by bringing in large swaths of the population that remained unbanked into the fold to participate in economies across the continent.

According to GSMA’s 2024 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, registered mobile money accounts grew by 12% to 1.75 billion in 2023 while transaction values for international remittances via mobile money grew to almost $29 billion and merchant payments by 14% to around $74 billion.

Today, consumers can do anything with a mobile wallet that they can accomplish with a traditional bank account or card. In Kenya, where the mobile money market reached $133.2 billion in 2023 and M-Pesa holds a 96.5% market share, consumers can buy groceries from a grocer, purchase goods from the market, pay electricity bills or top up airtime with a simple code from M-Pesa. But, they’re not guaranteed to be able to do so outside of the country, region, or with international properties.

While many of the world’s largest digital merchants have started accepting mobile money payments, most international merchants still do not. This has meant that utilising mobile money in the global commercial space is cumbersome, resulting in a gap between financial inclusion locally within the continent and access to the global financial system. Essentially, this means that individuals using mobile money can’t do things like make payments on an international airline’s website or pay for a Netflix account, small businesses can’t purchase ads on social media platforms like Facebook or search engines like Google, and content creators can’t get paid by the social media platforms they make content on.

Fortunately, card scheme payment rails have the ability to bridge that gap as cards continue to be the preferred payment method for consumers and merchants alike. That’s why it’s imperative to move beyond the idea that African economies will not adopt cards because of mobile money and instead look towards increased interoperability between mobile money wallets and card networks.

Connecting Africa to itself and the world

Much like the continent itself, the payments environment in Africa is highly dynamic and diverse. Across individuals and countries, payment types can vary significantly, resulting in a splintered and disconnected payment ecosystem. For example, when purchasing from Takealot in South Africa, consumers have the option to pay by credit card, an electronic fund transfer (EFT) from their bank or use domestic-flavoured payment solutions such as PayFast, Ozow or Discovery Miles. However, international merchants or companies would have to integrate with each of these different payment service providers individually in every single economy on the continent in order to cater to a wide range of consumers, which is simply not feasible.

According to the World Economic Forum, the varied technical standards, laws and regulations that span countries across Africa contribute to the fact that historically many digital payment methods were closed loops and not interoperable with one another. Additionally, established mobile money interoperability in countries was usually limited to cases such as person-to-person transfers while merchant payments weren’t really considered.

But, advancements in payments interoperability technologies as well as strategic partnerships are facilitating the innovation needed to both achieve the desired convenience, speed and accessibility within the payments space while also enabling merchants to accept payments from and people to make payments to anyone .

Although before, people would need to transfer funds from their mobile wallet to a bank account and then use the bank-issued card to make a payment, this interoperability between the two legacy platforms—mobile wallet and card—means that both individuals and businesses are able to make direct payments by simply linking the two together.

Onafriq’s own partnership and subsequent acquisition of GTP, the number one processor for prepaid cards in Africa, in 2022 underscores the importance of card and mobile wallet interoperability by enabling participation in the global digital commerce environment, connecting traditional card scheme ecosystems such as Visa and Mastercard to the mobile money world.

Now, instead of a prefunded card where money can only be loaded on and not withdrawn, users can easily move money between their card and wallet. And, with digital cards, card networks can now be embedded directly onto the wallet app instead of carrying around a physical card. Even global players like Visa and Mastercard are realising that the only way to be successful in Africa is to play hand in hand with mobile money clients and cater to their needs – as evidenced by Mastercard’s $200 million minority stake in MTN’s fintech division.

Making borders matter less

As the world, and Africa, becomes more connected and digitalised, consumers are branching out in terms of where they’re purchasing goods from and merchants are catering to a more global customer base.

As such, African businesses and consumers alike should be able to make payments to any destination easily and through whichever payment channel they prefer. Cross-border payments need to become faster, cheaper, more transparent and accessible, while also ensuring their safety and security.

Payments interoperability between mobile money and cards will enable an ecosystem whereby you don’t need to link different payment methods, systems, and currencies to one another to ensure that no matter where you are, where you’re sending money to, or where you’re purchasing from, there is nothing standing in your way.

Ultimately, ensuring that these different payment products are able to understand and speak to each other is enabling a more inclusive and accessible financial services landscape, making it as easy as possible for people to perform transactions in a way that is both affordable and reliable.

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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. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd


Oriental News 2024 Summit: Muda Yusuf to Lead Discussion on Nigeria’s Path to Green Economy Transition 



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Dr. Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Center for The Promotion of Private Enterprise, CPPE, would drive discussion on Nigeria’s policy direction to establishing pathway towards economic recovery in line with global green economy initiative.

Muda Yusuf

Muda Yusuf

Yusuf, a renowned economist and former Director General, DG, of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, is the chairman of the 3rd National Conference being put together by Oriental News Nigeria, coming up on July 25th, 2024, at Radisson Blue GRA Ikeja, Lagos by 9am.

In recent years, economies all around the world have been experiencing a protracted slowdown driven by structural, global, and cyclical factors. Economic strategies that have been implemented to tackle recession and achieve rapid economic development have endangered sustainable growth by contributing to environmental degradation, global warming, and other negative repercussions.

Changing the paradigm to a green economy will boost natural capital stocks, safeguard the environment, and ensure social justice by providing practical tools and approaches to achieve sustainable growth while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

A transition to a green economy, however, faces challenges such as a lack of an appropriate policy framework, inadequate capital expenditure, varying levels of development, and resource endowments.

Therefore, for green sustainable development, newer business models, strategic changes and innovation in the use of resources, responsible and cleaner business practices, and green technologies are needed.

Above issues will form part of discussion to be spearheaded by Yusuf, who will further highlight challenges and how to accelerate the process.

Also, the Ag. Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, MD/CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, Abba Abubakar Aliyu, will be addressing key energy professionals and other government officials on the Agency’s current drive towards delivering clean and reliable electricity across Nigeria.

Aliyu, who has confirmed his participation at the conference will take audience through World Bank approved Nigeria Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-up (DARES) project

At the event also, the Director General, D-G of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Dr. Emomotimi Agama, would be x-raying key policies and options available in the country’s drive to strengthen her national economy while aligning with global push towards promoting green economy.

All of these will be the high point at the 3rd National Conference.

Oriental News Nigeria a leading digital media platform would gather key policy makers, Government and non-Governmental Organisations, industry experts in Nigeria’s financial sector to the conference which revolves around Nigeria’s Green Economy Initiative.

The theme of the 2024 Conference: ” Green Economy, Sustainable Growth and Infrastructure Transformation” considers various options available for Nigeria to sustain economic development and growth.

Sub-themes of the conference include, Green Finance, marketing, and supply chain, Strategies and Policies for a green economy, Renewable energy and Ecosystem for a green economy and Digital economy Entrepreneurship.

Agama, who has confirmed his attendance, expressed the belief that opportunities in terms of green economy are linked to the enormous possibilities for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, ecotourism, and coastal development.

Also, other stakeholders have highlighted that Nigeria’s commitment to harnessing its natural resource potential could make the country a pioneer in promoting green economy development, hence the choice of the theme of the conference.

The conference is segmented into two main broad areas, with the opening programme to address the key thematic topic through the guest speakers intervention and chairmans remarks with comments from participants which centers around the conference theme.

The second segment is round-table discussion through wider engagement by select professionals to discuss the main theme and sub-themes of the conference.

The conference will draw together and engage researchers, eminent practitioners, and policymakers from across the country who will form part of the plenary (Round-Table) session that will deliberate on the latest findings on practices and policies for a green economy and sustainable growth through strategic change and identify priorities for action by stakeholders to pursue the most promising policies and practices.

The conference will also serve as a venue where academic peers may exchange information, share experiences, collaborate, and develop management answers to pressing business issues.

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5 Core Business Areas where AI can Drive Revenue



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By Kehinde Ogundare, Country Manager, Zoho Nigeria.

According to the United Nations, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030 – of which $1.2 trillion could be generated by Africa. With the potential to unlock significant growth and development in key industries across the continent, AI is fundamentally changing how businesses operate, driving innovation, improving efficiencies, and transforming lives.

Kehinde Ogundare, Country Manager, Zoho Nigeria

Businesses of all sizes that have already invested in AI are reaping its benefits, from increasing business productivity and agility to improving customer experience and decision-making with McKinsey noting that AI leaders are outperforming their industry peers by a factor of 3.4.

But if businesses are to make the most of the opportunities offered by AI, it’s also important that it be deployed in the areas where it will have the greatest impact. Here are some areas and subsequent examples of how businesses can use AI within those areas to drive revenue.

1. Finance and billing

One of the most obvious places AI can help drive revenue in a business is in finances and billing. Having an accurate, up-to-date overview of finances can help an organisation know when to invest in growth, for example. And if a business wants a steady revenue flow, it must send out bills, invoices, and payment reminders on time.

Here, AI can help in several ways. When it comes to expense bills, for example, an AI tool with built-in image recognition would allow a business to scan its bills with the system, then auto-generate the amount, place, date, time, and category of expense, helping save loads of time and effort. For billing, meanwhile, AI can greatly speed up the onboarding process for new clients by automating large parts of it. AI-powered tools can also extract relevant information from invoices, including customer details and product descriptions, and automatically populate billing systems, creating further efficiency.

2. Lead prioritisation

Another key area is new business leads. More specifically, AI can help assess the calibre of leads that the sales team is bringing in. After all, two or three great leads can be more beneficial than 10 weak ones.

Using a points-based system, AI can help score leads according to their quality. That allows the sales team to better evaluate which leads are worth pursuing. In turn, that should allow them to make more sales at a more meaningful level.

3. Improved customer experience

Customer experience (CX), rather than product or price differences, has been the major differentiator for businesses for some time now. Customers are willing to spend more, are more likely to stay loyal, and recommend a business to friends and family if they have a good experience with it.

Businesses, therefore, need to pull out more stops than ever to ensure that their customer experience really stands out. Here again, AI can be helpful. Take sentiment analysis, for example. AI can help identify the most disgruntled customers, allowing customer success teams to focus on their needs and turn their experience of the business around.

4. Better targeted marketing

The most effective marketing today is highly personalised and targeted. AI can make it significantly easier to achieve the level of targeted personalisation necessary for marketing success today. Once integrated with a company’s data, an AI marketing tool can create and hone personalised marketing content based on each individual customer’s CRM data.

5. Enhanced employee productivity

There is a strong correlation between employee productivity and revenue. Employee productivity is in turn driven by positive employee experiences. The more productive your employees are, the higher your revenues and profit margins will be. AI can help improve both productivity and the overall employee experience by automating repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus on the kind of meaningful work that drives increased revenues.

Embrace AI, but use the right providers

While AI can add immense value when it comes to driving revenue within organisations, it’s also critical that businesses know what they’re getting into when embracing AI. That means doing comprehensive background research and ensuring that they choose tools that meet their needs and adhere to privacy best practices.

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NBC Grants C54News Nod to Operate in Nigeria



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National Broadcast Commission (NBC) has granted approval to Future One Africa Television (FOA TV), a pan-African television station, to begin operations.

NBC Grants C54News Nod to Operate in Nigeria

This followed a significant investment of $7 million by Idris-Etanami Abiodun Usman, network’s CEO, to establish a state-of-the-art broadcasting facility.

With NBC’s approval, C54News is now cleared to launch its innovative programming, showcasing the diversity and richness of African cultures, talents, and experiences.

The network promises to deliver high-quality content, including news, documentaries, entertainment shows, and more, catering to a diverse audience across the continent.

FOA TV’s cutting-edge technology and creative approach aim to redefine the television landscape in Africa, providing a platform for African voices, stories, and perspectives to shine.

The network has assembled a team of experienced professionals, including renowned journalists, producers, and presenters, to drive its vision forward.

As C54News prepares to take over the airwaves, audiences can expect a fresh and exciting broadcasting experience that reflects the complexity and beauty of Africa.

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