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AfCTFA Will Benefit FinTechs—FG Assures

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fintechs

By Adedapo Adesanya

Financial technology companies (FinTechs) will benefit massively from the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), says Nigeria’s National Action Committee on AfCFTA.

The team, which is in Lagos on a visit to sensitise stakeholders in the media, manufacturing, trade, and financial services sector, said the deal will help all members get preferential market access over non-members.

According to Mr Francis Anatogu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector Matters, the agreement hopes to create a single market for well-produced goods and services on the continent.

He added that the adopted multilateral contract will afford signatory countries access to a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion.

“With over 1.27 billion consumers and an aggregate GDP of $3.4 trillion, which AfCFTA is expected to help deliver, we are convinced that this will be a game-changer for the African business community, which Lagos state and Nigeria currently plays a leading role.

“We, therefore, encourage fintechs to take advantage of this initiative,” Mr Anatogu said.

Speaking on the timeline for the delivery of the deal, Mr Anatogu, who doubles as the Secretary of the National Action Committee, explained that it was a gradual process that would be delivered over time.

The AfCFTA agreement requires members to remove tariffs from 90 per cent of goods traded, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent and the elimination of tariffs could boost trade in Africa by 15-25 per cent in the medium term.

Answering questions on the likely impact of this on the country’s revenue generation, Mr Anatogu explained that over time, the country would get on its feet as AfcFTA fits into Nigeria’s economic diversification objectives because it provides huge export opportunities on the continent for products manufactured in Nigeria and services rendered by local businesses.

He added that there was the situation of increased variety as imports become easier and cheaper, consumers will gain access to a variety of products that are inexpensive as tough competition will make countries produce more products they are most efficient at.

Lagos Commits to AfCFTA

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday pledged its readiness to AfCFTA after a delegation paid a courtesy visit to the Governor of the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.

Mr Sanwo-Olu said, “I assure you that Lagos is not just the commercial or economic nerve centre by mouth, it’s also so that we can take that leadership role in the comity of states and lead effectively. We need to scale up infrastructure, capability to be able to take full advantage of what the entire African economy has to offer our country and state.

“With almost a billion population and a total Gross Domestic Product, GDP that is over 3 trillion I think it’s a ready-made market for us as a nation and in Lagos, in particular, to be able to take advantage.

“It’s no small feat being the largest cosmopolitan in Africa and we do not take it for granted, we know that we can be home to everybody and so we want to build that capacity which can only be possible if we have enough infrastructure and understanding what is expected of us.

“Over the weekend, we inspected the Lekki ports and see the things we are doing at the free trade zones. We looked at the refinery and fertilizer plants and all the opportunities that abound in the zone.

“Lagos indeed is getting ready because of the ports, which create about 20 to 30 per cent of GDP ( for big economies). Lekki port will open up Nigeria to international and African businesses more, both for import and export.

“The Apapa and Tincan Ports can only take 4,000 MTUs as the biggest vessel that can come there but the Lekki port, once completed by last quarter next year, is 18,000 MTU that’s about four times. This means that in both ways we can receive a lot more imputes and take more.

“So, mark to business will be quicker and faster and we see also developing the entire infrastructure that is required to do this business, road, power and extensive community engagement so that they are ready and able to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“We are happy it’s still a 5 to 10 years first phase, and we know that though we don’t have all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, but in another 12 months, am sure Lagos will be fully ready. “We are also intervening in power, off-grid capacities, buying meters for our people so that we can be ready.

“This is the largest investment in fintech in Africa, we are not just collaborating with the private sector, we are also enabling startups on a yearly basis, we will approve another set for some of our tech startups, granting them funding as seed for them to come up with creative ideas, some of them even get international recognition, so we are getting ready on all platforms.

“We are building another terminal at the airport, thanks to the federal government, and this attracts a sizeable percentage of international travel.

“We are doing a 3000 kilometres metropolitan fibre optics connectivity to grid Lagos. Once we get this right. What is required for telecom companies, small businesses, to rise and use it for security, health services, education and other platforms that can be the future that we see?

“Our vision and programs sit with what AfCFTA is all about and we see your committee as partners. We want our people to think local but act global so they can have the opportunity to send their goods and products to every part of Africa and the world.

“We will work with your team, set up a local action committee where we can have a one-stop-shop for the private sector on information, guidelines, understanding what is expected of them so that this thing can take footing quickly and Nigeria can take its full benefit.

“We want others to enjoy the benefits, but we are not a big nation for nothing. We want to take the full benefits but also to open our markets for others to access.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Interswitch Champions ePayments Ecosystem Growth

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ePayments Ecosystem

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Interswitch has thrown its full weight behind the 2021 Annual Committee of e-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH) retreat as part of its commitment to champion the epayments ecosystem growth.

This is the fifth consecutive year the leading integrated payments and digital commerce company is sponsoring the programme, which is a platform through which the committee examines key innovations in the payment industry over the past year and discuss insights and trend for the coming year.

This year’s retreat is slated to hold on December 2 and 3, 2021, in Abeokuta, Ogun State and would be attended by various stakeholders in the sector.

The 2021 Annual CeBIH Retreat tagged Innovative Digital Banking will focus on issues around the growth of digital payments in Nigeria and how technological innovations such as digital currencies, blockchain, 5G network, contactless payments, among others, will dominate the payment industry in the coming years.

Interswitch as a key industry stakeholder will be instrumental in spearheading these discussions, especially with its recent efforts around blockchain technology and other solutions around contactless payments.

The digital payment company has been an ardent supporter of the committee and its objectives, underpinned by a shared objective of enabling further development of the digital payments ecosystem in Nigeria.

This sponsorship highlights its interest in fostering deeper collaboration between banks and fintechs within the industry ecosystem.

Speaking on the forthcoming retreat, Mr Akeem Lawal, Managing Director for Transaction Switching & Payment Processing at Interswitch reiterated the importance of Interswitch’s participation in industry events such as the CeBIH Retreat, where critical issues, trends and analysis around the payment ecosystem are discussed.

He described the retreat as a necessity for industry players to assess the current state of things and make calculable projections for the future, with the aim to improve and deepen Nigeria’s payment system.

“This retreat remains important for stakeholders in the payment industry and offers an opportunity for Interswitch to be introspective about the steps taken to improve the payment system in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole,” Mr Lawal said.

“We at Interswitch remain committed to supporting and participating at platforms that share our vision to drive greater financial inclusion and prosperity across Nigeria and the Africa continent.

“Platforms such as the CeBIH annual retreat provide Interswitch and other industry players the impetus to engage with key stakeholders and collaborators from the banking system with a view towards improving our offerings to our customers viz-a-viz market demands, global trends and insights from the operating environment,” he added.

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Cyber Threats in Nigeria Drop 7.5% in 2021—Kaspersky

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Cyber Threats

By Adedapo Adesanya

Cyber threats in Nigeria in 2021 depreciated by 7.5 per cent, according to the latest research by Kaspersky.

This dramatic change in the threat landscape is coming at a time regular and self-propagating malware is decreasing dramatically, as it is no longer effective and cannot fly under security radars.

Security researchers at Kaspersky noticed that Kenya recorded the highest decline with an unprecedented 28.6 per cent, while South Africa saw a 12 per cent decrease.

The reason for such a change was the introduction and popularisation of new cybercrime models in the region, with cybercrime tools becoming more targeted along with a long-running trend where malware creators rely not on the technical advantage of their technologies over security protection, but on the human factor.

The cybersecurity firm noted that this has stimulated the evolution of phishing schemes in 2021. In particular, the region saw a wave of ‘Anomalous’ spyware attacks.

The usual phishing spyware attack begins when attackers infect a victim by sending them an e-mail with a malicious attachment or a link to a compromised website and ends when the spyware is downloaded and activated on the victim’s device.

Having gathered all necessary data, the operator usually ends the operation by attempting to leave the infected system unnoticed. In anomalous attacks, however, the victim’s device becomes not only a source of data but also a tool for spyware distribution.

Having access to the victim’s email server, the malware operators use it to send phishing emails from a legitimate company’s email address. In this case, anomalous spyware attacks an organisation’s server for collecting stolen data from another organisation and sending further phishing emails.

Speaking on this, Maria Garnaeva, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky ICS CERT team, “The Anomalous spyware attacks have a huge potential for growth in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria in 2022, because unlike regular spyware the entry-level for attackers who wish to employ this tactic is significantly lower – since instead of paying for their own infrastructure, they abuse and employ the victims’ resources.

“We see that cheaper attack methods have always been on the rise in the region and cybercriminals quickly pick up on new tactics. Kaspersky, therefore, suggests that in the nearest future, these countries should be prepared for such attacks.”

She explained that the mass scale attacks are not disappearing, but rather transforming with the scheme usually following a style where a user searches for a free version of an extremely popular legitimate spyware and the cybercriminals offer them a fake installer using ‘black SEO technic’ – the abuse of the legitimate search engines, resulting in the offering of the fraudulent websites first.

As a result of software installer execution, a few dozen malware samples are downloaded and installed with the goal of turning the infected devices into a part of the Glupteba botnet.

The whole fake installers campaign and botnet have been extremely active in South Africa in 2021 and continue to evolve, yet it is scarcely researched.

“While the Glupteba botnet seems to be a threat for consumers, we are still researching it and keeping an eye on its behaviour, since some distributed malware resembles APT-related samples like Lazarus APT groups and were recently used in the largest DDoS attack in Russia. It is too early to say it with a high level of confidence, but these factors may suggest that we are now entering the era where APT actors start to use existing malware distribution platforms which makes attribution of such attacks harder and opens a new vector similar to supply chain attacks,” added Ms Garnaeva.

Recommendations from Kaspersky

In order to stay protected from such new cybercrime models and threats, Kaspersky recommends the following:

– Pay close attention to and don’t open any suspicious files or attachments received from unknown sources.

– Do not download and install applications from untrusted sources.

– Do not click on any links received from unknown sources and suspicious online advertisements.

– Create strong passwords and don’t forget to change them regularly.

– Always install updates. Some of them may contain critical security issues fixes.

– Ignore messages asking to disable security systems for office software or antivirus software.

– Use a robust security solution appropriate to your system type and devices, such as Kaspersky Internet Security.

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Zeepay, KudiGo, mPharma, Others Win at Ghana Fintech Awards 2021

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Ghana Fintech Awards 2021

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

It was a memorable day a few days ago when the key stakeholders in the financial technology (fintech) sector in Ghana gathered in Accra for the Ghana Fintech Awards 2021.

At the event, organised by Arkel Consult and Management Services Limited in partnership with Abjel Communications, Zeepay Ghana Limited went home as the Fintech Company of the year, while Andrew Takyi-Appiah was announced as fintech personality of the year in the male category, with the female category was Dede Afriyie Quarshie.

The Start-up Fintech of the year was Paybox, the Fintech & Bank partnership of the year was Ghana Interbank payment & settlement systems, while the Fintech & Non-Bank partnership was clinched by KudiGo Incorporated.

Business Post reports that the Agritech of the year was Kwidex, the Healthtech of the year was mPharma, the Edutech of the year was Blossom Academy, the Insurtech of the year was Insurerity Digital, while the IT/Tech of the year was Clydestone Ghana LTD.

The organisers also announced BPC Banking Technologies as the Leading Payments Technologies Service Provider 2021, while Panamax Incorporated was announced as the Leading Fintech Solutions Provider 2021.

Speaking at the maiden awards held at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra, the President of the African Fintech Network (AFN), Mr Segun Aina, disclosed that the “Ghana Fintech Awards has come at a time when the Bank of Ghana has observed that there are over 70 Fintech companies and startups operating in the country.”

“It is highly appropriate to say Arkel Consult and Abjel Communications have identified the economic contribution of the fintech startups and companies and decided to recognize their efforts by hosting this event. My hearty congratulations to these organisers for the foresight in putting up this event,” he added.

He assured that “AFN will look forward to inaugurating the Ghana Fintech Association and will be happy to support the sustenance of the Ghana Fintech Outlook Conference and Awards as an annual ecosystem event in partnership with the Ghana Fintech Association.”

Mr Martin Kwame Awagah, Director of Arkel Consult and Management Services Limited, expressed appreciation to Panamax Inc. Zeepay Ghana Limited, BPC Banking Technologies, Brassica Pay, EziPay, DreamOval, MTN Mobile Money Limited, Pavelon.com, People’s Pension Trust and Tarragon Edge who were the official sponsors of the ceremony.

He congratulated the shortlisted nominees and the winners for their efforts in promoting the growth of the fintech space in the country.

The Ghana Fintech Awards 2021 was created to recognise and acknowledge the achievements of individuals and companies who are contributing to the growth of Ghana’s financial and technology ecosystem.

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