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ISPON Urges Nigerian Banks to Invest in Tech Startups

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The Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), an umbrella body for indigenous software companies in the country, has recommended that Nigerian banks should emulate their foreign counterparts by investing in technology startups.

As technology startups increasingly penetrate traditional banking segments, including payments, wealth management and billing, major global banking giants are not sitting on the sidelines. Six major American banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo – have made strategic investments in 30 technology companies since 2009, according to CB Insights data.

In a statement issued by ISPON and signed by Pius Okigbo, its president, the institute commended Nigerians banks for their foresights in funding various tech startups in the 1990s and 2000s such as Interswitch, ValuCard (Unified Payments Limited), ATMC, NIBSS, Credit Registry and CRC Credit Bureau, all financed by various consortia of Nigerian banks.

ISPON suggested that a second wave of investments in tech startups would require the establishment of Special Purpose Vehicles [SPVs] following global precedents, as was the case with Citi Bank that incorporated Citigroup Venture Capital business  through which it invested in i-Flex Solutions Limited,  driving the “FLEXCUBE’ suite of products to adoption by more than 100 financial institutions in over 40 countries.

Okigbo noted the six major American banks have invested in 30 tech companies since 2009, according to CB Insights data.

Out of the six banks, he added, Citigroup has been the most active primarily through its Citi Ventures, which has invested in fintech startups ranging from Betterment, Jumio and Square.

Goldman Sachs has already ventured into fintech startup with thematic investments across payments technology and big data finance.

Therefore, ISPON urged the banks to study how Deutsche Bank is building a strong ecosystem for innovations and take a lesson from it. Deutsche Bank would open three innovation laboratories in Berlin, London and Silicon Valley, as part of a EUR1 billion spend on digital initiatives over the next five years.

According to him, the giant German bank would help the organisation to develop new products and services from three global tech hubs, strengthening its ability to innovate and deepening relationships with smart tech startups.

“Nigerian banks should take advantage of the huge innovation awakening that is sweeping across Africa and particularly Nigeria to refocus their plans and place their bets on fintech startups. It is particularly sad that no bank is participating in DEMO Africa, a flagship launch pad for emerging technology and trend hosted in Lagos in 2014.  Many venture capitalists from around the world were present”, he said.

Meanwhile, Okigbo informed that DEMO Africa has already released a list of 30 technology start-ups from across Africa that will pitch at the 2015 edition of the event.

Topping the list of the technology startups with eight representatives is Nigeria and followed by Kenya with six. South Africa is third with three representatives while Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon and Zimbabwe each have two. Uganda, Tanzania and newcomer, Ivory Coast has one start-up each.

The presence of Ivory Coast on the list of giants is “a strong signal that more African nations are warming up” to the ability of the continent to craft own solutions to various needs.

The highest represented category on the 2015 list is finance and banking with eight products. Other categories are education, transport and logistics, retail, communication and media and entertainment.

He noted that, “We expect Nigerian banks at the Demo Africa 2015. There is no better opportunity for the banks to cherry pick the nascent tech startups they can place their bets,”

 


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Jumia Partners Reckitt Benkiser, Nokia, Others to Enable Consumers Access Quality Products

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Jumia has launched a Brand Festival campaign in partnership with top global brands such as Reckitt Benkiser, Unilever, Nokia, Intel, HP, Nexus, Hisense, Sharp, Samsung, Binatone, XIAOMI, ABSOLUT, Dettol, and Logitech.

The campaign which is scheduled to run from September 21st to 27th, will provide consumers access to top quality products directly from the manufacturers, eliminating all third parties, thereby reducing the cost of the products, which will enable consumers to save money.

Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi, said: “The aim of the campaign is to enable our consumers to save more money while getting the best quality products directly from the brand manufacturers. Consumers today are more conscious of the quality of the product they buy on Jumia, and at the same time want to save money while shopping.

In the wake of COVID-19, we have continued to strive to operate so that consumers can continue to stay at home, use e-commerce to shop, and stay safe in this trying time. We are proud to partner with Unilever, Nokia and other top brands as part of our commitment to provide customers easy access to quality products directly from the manufacturers at best prices.

Head of Key Accounts and e-Commerce at Reckitt Benckiser Nigeria Ltd, Afam Onwordi, stated that: “We have enjoyed a good and healthy relationship with Jumia in the last couple of years.

“As our fight in RB is making access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment a right and NOT a privilege, we would therefore always seize the opportunity of every major event like this (Brand Festival) to reward our consumers with interesting offers and deals across our wide range of products.”

Senior Business Manager at HMD Global, Emmanuel Ossai, said: “For us at HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, we are very excited to be supporting Jumia on this festival for authentic brands in Nigeria.

“We have a commitment to continuously deliver value and believe that this partnership will afford Nigerians more opportunities to enjoy the beauty of quality hardware and the secure Android experience that we offer across our range of Nokia smartphones.

“Interestingly, we have new exciting devices that will be unveiled to our Nigerian customers in the coming weeks and we cannot wait for you to have a feel of hardware magic carefully combined with software excellence. So, keep watching this space.”


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TikTok Picks Oracle to Provide ‘Secure’ Cloud Tech

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Enterprise software giant Oracle announced that it has been chosen to become TikTok’s “secure” cloud technology provider.

According to Oracle, this technical decision by TikTok was heavily influenced by Zoom’s recent success in moving a large portion of its video-conferencing capacity to the Oracle Public Cloud.

Oracle’s announcement comes after TikTok parent ByteDance last week said it will not be selling the video-sharing app’s US operations to software giant Microsoft.

This after US president Donald Trump signed an executive order on 6 August, blocking all transactions with ByteDance in an effort to address “national emergency” issues.

On 14 August, the US president issued an order that gave ByteDance 90 days to divest the US operations of TikTok.

Since then, US companies such as Microsoft and Oracle have been lining up as potential buyers for the popular short video app.

As the trade war between the US and China rages on, the US government has accelerated its efforts to purge Chinese apps and technology companies that it deems untrustworthy.

Trump and his administration raised national security issues, alleging the Chinese-owned company will share sensitive user data with the Chinese government.

“TikTok picked Oracle’s new Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure because it’s much faster, more reliable, and more secure than the first generation technology currently offered by all the other major cloud providers,” says Oracle chief technology officer Larry Ellison.

“In the 2020 Industry CloudPath survey that IDC recently released where it surveyed 935 infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) customers on their satisfaction with the top IaaS vendors including Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google Cloud…Oracle IaaS received the highest satisfaction score.”

“As a part of this agreement, TikTok will run on the Oracle Cloud and Oracle will become a minority investor in TikTok Global,” says Oracle CEO Safra Catz.

“Oracle will quickly deploy, rapidly scale and operate TikTok systems in the Oracle Cloud. We are 100% confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world.

“This greatly improved security and guaranteed privacy will enable the continued rapid growth of the TikTok user community to benefit all stakeholders.”


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Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others

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inq. Holdings Limited, artificial intelligence service provider, has acquired Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others

It plans further acquisition in Cameroon subject to regulatory approvals.

Mr. Valentine Chime, managing director, inq. Holdings Limited, said the 100 per cent acquisition of the Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in the three countries was in pursuit of the company’s dream of building pan-African network that will help in creating better future through digital solutions.

Domiciled in Mauritius, inq. Holdings Limited is a subsidiary of Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund, a fund dedicated solely to communications infrastructure and related services and technologies across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Formerly known as Synergy Communications, the latest acquisition has grown inq.’s regional footprint with operations in 12 cities in seven countries across Africa. It has existing operations in Botswana, Malawi and South Africa with an additional investment in Mozambique.

“Under the inq. banner the company will embark on the next phase of building a unified Pan-African cloud and digital service provider, bringing to market a very relevant suite of next generation technology solutions in the fields of Edge AI, SD-WAN/NFV and Cloud,”Chime said.

According to him, with operations in major African cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Gaborone, Lusaka, Ndola, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Abidjan and Johannesburg, the inq. team prides itself on global best practice methodologies customised to local customs in each of the 16 cities, covering different sectors including banking, oil and gas, fast moving consumer goods, mining, health, real estate, information technologies, public sector and logistics.

“Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and inq. is perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and  technologies to our clients. We are about simpler, seamless solutions,” Chime said.

 

 


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