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Nigerian fintech Zone raises $8.5M seed to scale its decentralized payment infrastructure

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Zone, Africa’s fast-growing payment infrastructure company (the “Company”), has raised $8.5 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round led by reputable VC firms Flourish Ventures and TLcom Capital.

The deal marks a pivotal moment for Zone as the company continues on its journey to build a Blockchain-based decentralized payment infrastructure for financial services providers across the continent and beyond.

By harnessing the power of blockchain, Zone’s blockchain network delivers reliable, frictionless and universally interoperable payment experiences at scale to financial service providers and their customers.

Zone has a unique position as Africa’s first regulated blockchain network for payments and has already signed up over 15 of Africa’s largest banks and fintech companies.

The new funding will enable Zone to further expand the coverage of its network domestically and connect more banks and financial services companies. A significant portion of the proceeds will also be allocated to conducting a comprehensive pilot programme to test the Company’s cross-border capabilities, scheduled for 2025. A key priority of the Company is to ensure that it is well-prepared to extend its footprint across Africa in order to support Intra-African and international payments which will bring the company closer to its vision of becoming a global payment network.

Flourish Ventures, an early-stage global fintech venture firm with purpose will provide Zone with a global perspective, networks of industry influencers and extensive Africa fintech expertise, paving the way for expansion into new markets.

UK-based TLcom Capital provides essential local credibility and understanding of the African tech space while leveraging its existing relationships with key decision-makers In Nigeria to establish a strong foundation for Zone within its home market.

Other investors in this round include international blockchain-focused VC firms Digital Currency Group (DCG), VKAV (Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures) and Alter Global, each bringing niche sector expertise and credibility. These investments at a time when start-up funding has dried out are a testament to investor confidence in Zone’s mission to connect every monetary store of value and establish a regulated and decentralized global payment infrastructure.

Additionally, the endorsement and investment from Endeavor Catalyst reinforces Zone’s status as a frontrunner in Africa’s fintech revolution, highlighting the company’s alignment with the entrepreneurial spirit that drives technological transformation and economic progress.

Commenting on the funding round, Obi Emetarom, CEO and co-founder of Zone, said: “The participation of high-quality investors despite the funding drought and the fact that we had more interested investors than we needed, is a sign of trust in the Zone brand and investor excitement about the opportunity to redefine payment infrastructure in Africa. As we step into this new phase at Zone, we are re-energized and our commitment to transforming Africa’s payment infrastructure is renewed. Our new investors and existing shareholders including CCA, Lateral Capital, Constant Ventures and V8 bring more than just financial backing as their global scope and deep expertise make them invaluable partners for us. With their support, we are poised to accelerate our mission to connect every monetary store of value and enable real-time payments within and across geographical borders. Zone is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancement and industry evolution in financial services.”

Ameya Upadhyay, Partner at Flourish Ventures said: “For the first time in Africa, Zone’s technology enables direct communication between participants in the payment ecosystem. We believe this is a fundamental leap that will allow customers to experience a completely new standard of reliability, speed and cost efficiency at the ATM, at POS machines and online. We are excited by the potential for Zone’s technology to be replicated across borders to advance payment innovation globally. The fact that Zone is led by Obi and Wale who are veterans of the banking industry reinforces our conviction that Zone can fulfil our shared goal of moving the entire sector forward”.

Ido Sum, Partner at TLcom Capital, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Obi Emetarom and Wale Onawunmi, co-founders of Zone, on their journey to build a category-defining fintech company that is using advanced blockchain technology to solve a critical payments system challenge. The Company’s innovative infrastructure has the potential to deliver tremendous value to financial institutions, enhancing the overall payments experience for end-users and driving down costs for hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses that rely on digital payments in Africa every day. We have no doubt that Zone, led by Obi and Wale, is on its way to transform into a global company over time, and TLcom is excited to bring its complementary experience, networks and expertise to support the Company in fulfilling its impressive scale ambitions”.

 

 

 


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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

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9mobile Refutes Claims of N55Bn Debt to Keystone Bank

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Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, trading as 9mobile, has refuted reports suggesting that a court ordered the company to pay a N55bn debt to Keystone Bank.

9mobile Refutes Claims of N55Bn Debt to Keystone Bank

In a statement at the weekend, the telecommunications company clarified that it was not a party to any legal suit or court order related to the debt.

The legal dispute involves only its minority shareholder, Teleology Nigeria Limited.

“Our attention has been drawn to a wave of syndicated media publications dated Friday, July 19, 2024, with the same misleading headline: ‘Court orders 9mobile to pay N55bn debt to Keystone Bank,’” 9mobile stated.

“The Management of 9mobile wishes to inform the concerned public and critical stakeholders that, contrary to this misleading headline, Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, trading as 9mobile, was neither a party to any suit nor affected by the order said to have been made against it as an entity.”

On Friday, a section of the media reported that a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered Teleology Nigeria Ltd. to pay the sum owed to Keystone Bank.

Bode Olanipekun, SAN, Keystone’s counsel, claimed Teleology failed to service the loan used to finance its acquisition of assets in 9mobile.

Despite Keystone Bank’s offer to restructure the loan, Teleology did not meet the conditions set forth. Instead of repayment, the plaintiff received a proposal from PAC Ltd. suggesting a debt conversion to equity with no immediate repayment.

9mobile emphasised that the reports were false and defamatory, impacting its corporate reputation.

“If the correspondents who filed the obviously syndicated news stories were anywhere near the courtroom during the proceedings leading to the issuance of the said order, they would have known that at no point was 9mobile a party to the suit in question. Rather, the action was appropriately classified and filed as ‘Keystone Bank v. Teleology Nigeria Limited.’”

The company reiterated that no judgment was made against it and described the attempt to link 9mobile with the transaction of its minority shareholder, Teleology Nigeria Limited, as “false and maliciously misleading.”

9mobile highlighted that it is under new ownership, with a 95.5 per cent controlling stake in the business, and has not been found liable for the actions of its minority shareholder in the ongoing legal tussle.

“Our business transformation program has commenced, and we are poised to reclaim our place in the market,” 9mobile assured.

Teleology Holdings acquired 9mobile, previously known as Etisalat Nigeria, in November 2018 after a lengthy bidding process. However, just two months later, Teleology announced its withdrawal from the project due to dissatisfaction with its local partnership and operational challenges.

This decision jeopardised the initial $50m deposit made for the acquisition and highlighted ongoing financial difficulties faced by 9mobile, which has seen a significant decline in subscribers since its financial troubles began in 2017.

 


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TD Africa, BOSCH Strengthen Ties on Nigerian Consumer Electronic Market

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To further showcase its acknowledgment and endorsement of the Nigerian-born, Africa-wide technology distribution company, TD Africa, a delegation of Robert Bosch GmbH, popularly known as BOSCH, has paid a courtesy visit to the tech distribution giant at its Victoria Island, Lagos, head office.

L-R: Ifeoma Chigbo-Ndukwe (HR & Admin, TD Africa); Anastasia Etumeahu (Bosch Business Manager, TD Africa); Piet Ebersohn (Bosch Brand Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa); Chioma Chimere (Coordinating Managing Director, TD Africa); Chiamaka Okonkwo (Business Analyst, TD Africa); Omotola Basiru (Procurement Officer, TD Africa).

This pivotal visit marks a renewed commitment of the German multinational engineering and technology company to TD Africa as the strategic ally for Bosch business in Nigeria.

Mrs. Chioma Chimere, the Coordinating Managing Director of TD Africa, who warmly received the Bosch delegation, said the visit was to further strengthen the existing ties between the two companies and stamp the multinational’s presence in Nigeria.

Her words, “This visit signifies a renewed focus on making Bosch the most sought-after consumer electronics brand for the discerning Nigerian customer.

“We believe the collaborative strategies discussed will pave the way for big prospects and breakthroughs for Bosch in Nigeria, and TD Africa stands ready as a key partner in this journey.”

Topmost on the discussion were strategies for projecting TD Africa as the key distributor for Bosch products in the country. As both parties outlined plans towards achieving exponential growth through marketing initiatives, among others, to expand Bosch’s market share.

Mr. Piet Ebersohn, the Brand Manager for Bosch, Sub-Saharan Africa, who led the delegation, said: “TD’s commitment to the growth of the customer’s value chain is immeasurable and invaluable. This is one of the many reasons we value our partnership with TD Africa.”

For the continued efficacy of the alliance, the German company promised to ensure top-notch supply-chain management practices with TD Africa to ensure a steady flow of desired Bosch products to ease and meet the Nigerian consumer demands without delay.

While this collaboration further reinforces TD Africa’s commitment to making technologies accessible across the continent, the visit has again confirmed TD Africa’s position as the premier distributor of choice for leading global brands.


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FG Calls on Nigerians to Apply for ECOWAS Cybersecurity Hackathon

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Federal Government of Nigeria is calling on all Nigerian youths and IT enthusiasts to join the Capture the Flag (CTF) competition by registering to participate in the Economic Community of West Africa’s (ECOWAS) Cybersecurity Hackathon.

The event aims to empower citizens across the region with vital cybersecurity skills.

The event is being organised by ECOWAS and hosted by Nigeria in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, and NITDA.

The Cybersecurity Hackathon presents an excellent opportunity for both beginners and seasoned professionals to dive into the world of cybersecurity, acquire new skills, and network with fellow enthusiasts.

All talented individuals and teams are invited to join this exhilarating competition. Demonstrate your expertise, collaborate with peers, and push the boundaries of cybersecurity. Be part of the talent pool driving cyberspace security for your country and West Africa as a whole.

The hackathon fosters a platform for young technology enthusiasts, enhancing the cyber workforce in the region. Nigerian youths are particularly encouraged to participate and showcase their brightest minds in this competition. Whether a cybersecurity novice or a seasoned expert, this event offers a unique opportunity to learn new skills and connect with fellow cyber enthusiasts.

ECOWAS Hackathon is an annual ethical hacking competition that brings together top cybersecurity talents from across ECOWAS, providing a unique opportunity to showcase skills, encourage knowledge sharing, and promote excellence in the field of cybersecurity.

The first edition took place in Porto Novo, Benin Republic in 2022 and Lome, Togo in 2023.

Eligibility and Registration Details:

Registration Period: Open from July 19, 2024, to August 5, 2024.

Eligibility Criteria:

All participants must be citizens of ECOWAS

member countries.

Travel tickets will be provided for participants residing within the region.

Teams must consist of 3-4 members, with at least one female participant.

Participants must be between 17 and 35 years of age.

This initiative came at the time of a recent report by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), which highlighted a global gap of four million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is addressing this talent shortage through its 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme, organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy.

The programme aims to train three million Nigerians in technical skills, including cybersecurity.

Register Now:

Don’t miss this thrilling opportunity to be part of West Africa’s cybersecurity community. Registration for the ECOWAS Cybersecurity Hackathon is now open. Join this exciting Capture the Flag (CTF) competition by clicking the link below: https://ecowasctf.ng](https://ecowasctf.ng)


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