Sean Moroney, is chairman of Aitec Africa, whose core business since 1987 has been focussed on ICT publishing, event management, professional development and training in Africa.
Moroney’s company has been market-leading pioneer in terms of spreading knowledge on the Internet, computing and telecommunications across most of English-speaking Africa.
He spoke to hilary okeke on the forthcoming Aitec banking and payment technology conference and other issues.
Aitec Banking and Payment Technology Conference
Aitec Banking and Payment Technology Conference is a platform where experts in banking technology from Nigeria, South Africa, U.K and other parts of the world, come together to share their knowledge with the professionals and managers that attend the conference. Last year we had over 400 delegates attending the conference. In parallel with the conference, we have the exhibition which is the marketing showcase for the industry. Here, we see the latest technologies for the banking and financial services sector under one roof, providing a competitive situation where the banks and other potential buyers of the products can compare and actually quiz the companies that are on display about the services they are providing.
The Banking and Payment Technology Conference has transformed the development of the financial credit sector from one that is rather traditional and colonial in perspective, to one that is now more outward looking, more inclusive and providing services for the unbanked. The problem that the conference has is that the vast majority of the populace still remains unbanked. They do not have basic financial services in order to transfer funds; in order to get money from one part of the country to another and also to be able to save their funds securely. The mobile banking phenomenon has hit East Africa in a big way and it is expected in this part soon. That would be a major focus of this year’s conference – Mobile Banking or what we call Branchless Banking. So, that has been the major achievement of the conference, providing a forum where new developments that are rapidly evolving can be deliberated.
Nigeria Ripe for e-Payment
Definitely! I think one needs to draw a line between e-payment and mobile payment. The former is facilitated by the Internet. I think the infrastructure is not well developed, in that way a lot of people do not have access to the Internet. For mobile payment, we are going to see huge increases in terms of volumes. Because there is rapid roll out of mobile telephony in the country, one can now leverage on that infrastructure and develop mobile banking.
Potential of Branchless Banking in Nigeria
Well, the potential is limitless. It still boils down to leveraging on the mobile networks, and there is big potential. You can use the mobile networks to transfer from user-to-user; you can also deploy wireless systems with mobile devices to function in the rural areas. At this moment, we have thousands of agents vending mobile scratch cards. Those agents can be trained and upgraded to actually become bank agents and can be in charge of certain transactions. So, the opportunities are boundless.
Role of Telecommunications in Mobile Banking
Telecommunication networks provide the backbone of the mobile banking system. In Kenya for example, on the M-pesa system there are millions of customers making fund transfers through the mobile system. The time has come for the banks to partner with mobile operators to provide these services because they have the proper banking expertise and experience in order to provide customers with the security and professionalism they need using mobile banking; whereas the mobile operators are more experienced in the infrastructure aspect. There is the need for partnership between the two sectors in order to provide effective mobile banking services.
Replicating M-pesa’s Success in Nigeria
Of course it could, but the right regulatory environment needs to be put in place. The Central Bank is grappling with that at the moment. Moneybox has been given mobile banking licence, which indicates some progress. I think we are on the eve of another banking revolution in Nigeria and we will see millions of people making use of their mobile phones for banking transactions.
Microfinance Banks and Mobile Banking
That is an important focus of this year’s conference – it includes the microfinance institutions. The conference, which would be in partnership with CGAP, EFIna and the World Bank, is going to focus on fashioning out ways in which these new technologies and new ideas can be utilized by the microfinance institutions. One of the sessions would be “Linking MFIs, Banks and payment Providers: What are the Obstacles in Nigeria?” So, we are going to look at what the problems are and what are the solutions. That would be a major focus of the conference – to find a way around to actualizing the benefits of these new developments.
Place of the Unbanked in the Branchless Banking Scenario
The unbanked are the target audience. The key untapped market out there needs low cost banking solution to be able to transfer funds from one point to another; a low cost solution to be able to invest their funds effectively, as well as access micro loans to develop their businesses. That is very critical in a branchless banking system that is based on telecoms networks.
Issues at this Year’s Event
They include latest software developments for ATMs. We will be looking at e-channels for microfinance banking, and the major focus will be on security issues. As we speak about mobile banking, security is a major problem. So, we would be looking at solutions in terms of security. We would be addressing ATM software trends for 2009/10, contact centres in banking, matters arising in Islamic banking, among others. In the exhibitions, we have a number of South African countries participating and we would be seeing a lot of cutting-edge technologies.
Jumia Partners Reckitt Benkiser, Nokia, Others to Enable Consumers Access Quality Products
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.”
TikTok Picks Oracle to Provide ‘Secure’ Cloud Tech
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.”
Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others
inq. Holdings Limited, artificial intelligence service provider, has acquired Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire.
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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