MTN IS ACCELERATING MOBILE MONEY IN NIGERIA
MTN, Africa’s largest telecom, has been in the news this year for all the right reasons.
First a rebrand to a tech company, then purchasing land in the metaverse and paying 13.5% of the total amount of tax collected by the Nigerian federal tax authority in 2021.
Keep it coming.
Yesterday, MTN Nigeria received final approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria to run a payment service bank.
Huh, what does this mean?
MTN Nigeria can now provide virtually all the services offered by conventional commercial banks with the exception of granting credit and processing foreign exchange transactions.
For Nigerians, it means an alternative [easier] form of payment independent of data connection or smartphones. While Nigeria already has a workable banking infrastructure that enables instant interbank transactions, mobile money will take that even further by reducing walk-in services, and even card transactions. With MoMo, Nigerians will be able to pay access on-and-offline payment options, from paying for foodstuffs at convenience stores to renewing DStv subscriptions from their MoMo wallets.
Backstory: This announcement follows a previous approval in principle granted in November 2021, to Airtel Africa Plc and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc to operate a payment service bank in the country. The final approval was subject to the fulfilment of certain standards of the conditions within six months.
This hints that, while MTN has gotten its own approval, Airtel Nigeria could be getting its own soon.
Zoom out: Despite being home to Africa’s largest unbanked population, Nigeria has not witnessed the same exponential growth in mobile money adoption and lags behind its regional peers like Ghana and Kenya when it comes to penetration. In January, MTN revealed that MTN Nigeria’s mobile money service had attracted 9.4 million active users since launching in August 2019. This approval is expected to spur the adoption of mobile money in Nigeria as the use cases increase.
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UBER’S SOLUTION FOR ITS SOUTH AFRICAN DRIVERS
Uber has raced to present its version of a solution for its drivers in South Africa.
What’s up in SA?
Drivers for e-hailing platforms in South Africa are raising their voices [and standards].
Over the past month, drivers from Bolt, Uber, InDriver and newly exited DiDi, have been protesting for improved working conditions. Late last month, the drivers embarked on a 3-day strike which ended with the presentation of a memorandum at the Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure agency.
What do the drivers want?
The drivers want the government to regulate the e-hailing sector in order to enable fairer working conditions.
Amongst their complaints, the drivers are protesting high commission fees from Uber and Bolt—who charge 25% and 20% respectively.
South Africa is also experiencing rising fuel prices, and the drivers are concerned that the platforms haven’t addressed the issue. The cost for each trip has risen for drivers, but their earnings are stagnant.
So what’s Uber’s solution?
Well, they’re definitely not reducing their commission rates or increasing prices.
Uber’s solution is two new offerings: Uber Reserve and Uber Hourly. Uber Reserve allows users to book rides 15 minutes or 5 minutes early, while Uber Hourly—Black by the Hour—will allow users to book Uber rides by the hour, and have as many stops or locations as they want for a base fee.
Kagiso Khaole, Head of Mobility Operations at Uber sub-Saharan Africa, explained that the new offerings are targeted at improving income for drivers. “We will continue to leverage our technology to stay on the cutting edge of innovation to allow us to quickly adapt and meet the changing needs of drivers and riders,” said Khaole.
Big picture: Will these new offerings help the drivers though? There’s definitely an allure to Uber Hourly but it appears Uber might be overestimating just how many South Africans can afford to pay R258 ($18) per hour, and how this will improve the lives of its 35,000 + drivers in South Africa.
A notable coincidence is that just about a year ago, a similar protest happened in Nigeria where the Professional E-Hailing Drivers and Partners Association (PEDPA) led Uber and Bolt drivers in a protest against high commission fees. Both companies, to protect their profit margins, didn’t reduce the fees but it Nigerian lawmakers did launch an inquiry into its e-hailing sector in December 2021.
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HUAWEI PLANS TO UPSKILL 100,000 AFRICANS
Chinese tech company, Huawei, has launched a digital skills development programme that it says will upskill 100,000 Africans in 3 years.
The LEAP—Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibilities Programme—programme was announced last week at Huawei’s ICT Competition Awards Ceremony in South Africa.
The programme will span across 3000 ICT courses including basic ICT training and certification courses, to government digital capacity building and ICT skills competitions. Huawei will also engage about 1,200 instructors to help it facilitate the courses, and build training centres and innovation hubs across the continent.
At the announcement, Len Chen, Huawei’s South Africa president, importance of ICT skills transfer and talent development and underlined Huawei’s consistent emphasis on it.
Huawei’s involvement in tech development on the continent has grown in the past decade. The company presently has over 6,500 Africans under its employment. Its ICT Competition has also helped 80,000 students from several African nations gain access to ICT learning tools and instructors.
The company also announced plans in 2021 to build a research and innovation centre in Tunisia.
Huawei joins a number of foreign tech companies that are supplementing indigenous startups’ efforts in investing in talent development on the continent. Microsoft recently opened new offices for its African Development Centres in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya while Cisco, Phillips and Visa are running innovation studios across the globe.
EVENT: ELEV8 SKILLS TALK
Elev8 is holding the next edition of its quarterly webinar series, Skills Talk, tomorrow, April 13 at 10 AM WAT.
This instalment of Skills Talk is themed “Cost optimization using cloud technology” and will feature Okechukwu Nwoke, Chief Technology and Operations Officer of Stanbic IBTC as the keynote speaker.
Register for the event here.
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