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Digital Payment Options Can’t Succeed Without Trust—Lawal

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Akeem Lawal Interswitch Digital Payment Options

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

One of the things that have had a huge effect on the way human life is technology. It is one tool human has used to make life easier.

From the comfort of one’s home or office, items can be bought on the internet and payments made without having to go to a bank to withdraw cash for the is one of the purchase.

But despite this convenience technology offers, there are some persons who still do things the traditional way and they cannot be blamed.

In this interview, the Divisional CEO of Payments Processing at Interswitch, Mr Akeem Lawal, said stakeholders in the financial technology (fintech) industry must work tirelessly to build trust so as to make the digital payment options to be successful. Excerpts;

The SME sector in Africa is huge. In Nigeria alone, we have over 41 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). How important would you say this sector is to the growth and development of the African economy?

The SME sector is a potential game-changer for economic growth, especially in Nigeria. This is why it is important for stakeholders in that sector to provide simple solutions that enhance their ability to generate economic activities that will boost the community and national economy.

At Interswitch, we are committed to providing simple and scalable payment solutions for small and big businesses alike. The Quickteller Business platform is a testament to our commitment to make payments one less thing to worry about for our business users and their customers.

There seems to be a lot of activities within the payment, e-commerce and fintech sectors in recent years, with many new entrants as well as FDIs. What would be your fair assessment of the sectors? What should we expect, going forward?

When accessing the various sectors, we know that the Nigerian economy has been a beneficiary of foreign direct investment inflows since the 1970s. However, there is a need to diversify the Nigerian economy and reduce our dependence on oil. There is no doubt that a thriving industrial sector is pivotal to mass employment, improved skills and better wages, which will lead to a reduction in poverty.

Nigeria’s ICT sector has grown from less than one per cent of GDP in 2001 to almost 10 per cent of GDP today. The country is currently Africa’s biggest technology market and accounts for 23 per cent of internet users in Africa with 122 million people online in December 2018.

Nigeria has surpassed other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to emerge as a premier tech investment destination with 55 active tech hubs raising a total of $94.9 million, while South Africa raised $60.0 million with 59 active start-ups. The growth of the tech sector offers new possibilities for Nigeria’s growing labour force, in terms of employment and entrepreneurship.

Now, these sectors I have mentioned have found gaps to fill and are offering creative solutions to individuals and companies.

However, despite the fact that there are so many new players in these sectors, there is still so much more to be done.

Take e-commerce, for instance, you will be surprised that a good number of people are still not comfortable buying things online – putting in their card details and trusting that what they ordered is what they will get.

The same goes for other digital payment options like PoS. A lot of people would rather spend hours on ATM queues or travel long distances to get to a bank instead of walking up to a nearby money agent to withdraw or deposit money.

This means that stakeholders need to do more to gain the trust of customers. Everyone wants convenience but people also want to trust that convenience.

You can’t blame someone that has had series of failed/declined transactions at a PoS terminal and is referred back to his/her bank, then spends days and even weeks going back and forth with the bank, to be confident enough to want to make use of that channel again.

In the coming years, there will definitely be more growth in these various sectors, especially fintech. There will still be immense additions to mobile consumptions as two-thirds of the global population are mobile subscribers. There will be more adoption of new technology to grow businesses and create jobs. This adoption will provide data and big data is also quite important for decision making and creating smarter innovations.

I also foresee that more organisations will begin to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase efficiency and enhance productivity.

Recently, Interswitch introduced Quickteller Business, which is an upgrade of Interswitch Webpay. Why was the upgrade necessary?

The upgrade was necessary because the enhanced Quickteller Business platform broadens payment management capabilities for businesses and merchants of all sizes, allowing them to access a wide range of integrated payment offerings, ranging from disbursements to value financing.

Also, upgrading to the Quickteller Business platform enables small businesses, including social media entrepreneurs, to take their businesses online to become completely digital without having to go through the hassles of developing digital capabilities themselves.

With the ease of the Quickteller Business, users can focus on creating economic activities for themselves and their communities. One of the values added for using the Quickteller Business platform is that users are exposed to over five million consumers already using Quickteller for a variety of retail payments in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and the Gambia.

What are the add-ons and additional features that came with this upgrade?

We have a lot of add-ons and features, such as:

Storefronts – Quickteller Business allows business owners to create customized branded online store, display product images and videos and gives an incredible mobile experience for customers across all devices.

e-Billing and Invoicing – Quickteller Business enables businesses to automatically generate invoices, accept payments via the payment link embedded in the invoice. The invoice also helps the businesses track their sales.

Split Settlements – With Split Settlement, businesses can instruct Quickteller Business on how transactions should be settled into predefined bank accounts.

Developers (Sandbox) – Quickteller Business enables developers to try out the features of their apps on the platform before they are activated for real transactions.

Multiple Integration Plans – Quickteller Business is customizable and offers multiple integration plans for web and mobile SDKs. Explore Pop Up, Page Redirect and Inline for web developers as well as iOS and Android for Mobile integration options.

Detailed Transaction Reporting – Quickteller Business helps businesses have access to detailed reports of their transactions across all collection channels – Web, POS, QR, USSD.

Dispute Management – With Quickteller Business, businesses of all types and sizes can manage their transaction disputes and chargebacks.

Refunds – Where required, businesses can seamlessly initiate partial or full refunds from the transaction details page.

Quickteller Business was designed with SMEs in mind. What are the benefits they stand to enjoy by signing on to the platform?

There are lots of benefits for SMEs, although the benefits are also now extended to both SMEs and large corporate business.

First, they enjoy getting paid online without a website; from creating a payment link that is useful and unique for both single purchases and recurring payments. The link can be shared with their customers via WhatsApp, Instagram, email or SMS.

Secondly, it is compatible with all card types – Verve, Visa, Mastercard; all payment channels, QR, USSD and for integrating payments, it is compatible with WordPress, Web and Mobile SDKs.

Third, they will enjoy fast-tracked outstanding payment with digital invoices.  They can generate invoices on the go and get paid from any account via any channel. The invoicing feature has a payment link embedded to help receive payment seamlessly using our multi-payment methods and they can easily track from the portal once payment has been made.

What separates Quickteller Business from the pack?

The Quickteller Business platform is intuitive, robust and secure. Quickteller Business is an innovation and improvement of an already effective platform making it a more tested platform. The platform is built using world-standard fraud management solutions that help mitigate fraudulent transactions.

The Quickteller Business platform exposes its users to a ready market of over 5 million potential customers. The platform gives its users total control over its business, collection and every other thing in between.

What categories of business can sign on to Quickteller Business and how affordable is it for small businesses?

All types of businesses can sign up to the Quickteller Business platform – small businesses, large corporates and individuals. From the platform, businesses and individuals can receive payments from anyone, anywhere and everywhere.

Interestingly, these offers come at no cost. Yes, everything on the Quickteller Business platform is free and if you register your business between now and April 2021, you will also enjoy zero transaction fees.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Twitter Snubs Nigeria, Opens First African Office in Ghana

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Twitter Fake news

By Adedapo Adesanya

Twitter has snubbed Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, and has picked its West African neighbours, Ghana, as the preferred location for its first African office.

This was disclosed in a statement on Monday by the social media giant. The opening of its office in Ghana is part of efforts to make inroads in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets.

In the statement, the company noted, “We must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent.”

The move has come as a surprise to many as they had pegged South Africa or Nigeria as the first choice but according to Twitter, the decision to kick off its African expansion with Ghana stems from the country’s dealings with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and its openness towards the internet.

“As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.

“Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa,” the statement read.

Twitter’s move was welcomed in Ghana by the country’s president, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo, who tweeted, “This is the start of a beautiful partnership between Twitter and Ghana,” adding that its presence was crucial for the development of Ghana’s tech sector.

Twitter trails its rival, Facebook Incorporated, which opened its first African office in Johannesburg in 2015 and plans to open a second in Lagos this year. The firm struck a deal with African telecom majors in 2020 to build one of the world’s largest subsea cable networks.

Africa is under-tapped terrain for technology firms, with internet use per population at around 39 per cent against a world average of 59 per cent according to web analytics firm StatCounter, but that number grows every year thanks to expanding mobile broadband networks and affordable phones.

StatCounter figures show that around 11.8 per cent have Twitter.

The news comes almost eighteen months after Twitter Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jack Dorsey with his Twitter team visited the continent for the first time in November 2019.

During his tour on the continent, he visited Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa, where he met with different industry leaders and tech stakeholders on matters concerning Twitter and bitcoin.

There are expectations that social media will grow on the continent in the next couple of years.

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NITDA Begins Challenge to Drive Vibrant Digital Economy

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Nigeria's Digital Economy

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), as part of the United Nations’ World Creativity and Innovation Day 2021, has opened the application for an Innovation Challenge to support Nigeria’s plans to become a 21st-century digital economy.

Themed Inspiring Creativity and Innovation in the Nigerian Digital Economy, the competition hopes to harness innovative and impactful solutions for the development of a vibrant digital economy.

The World Creativity and Innovation Day is a global United Nations day celebrated to raise awareness around the importance of creativity and innovation in problem-solving with respect to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as the “global goals”.

The agency is, therefore, calling on all Nigerians with innovative and impactful working solutions to make entries for the Innovation Challenge.

Solutions will be evaluated based on job and wealth creation potential, originality, marketability, scalability and inclusiveness. Successful entries will have an opportunity to present their solutions to the tech industry stakeholders.

The event is scheduled as follows:

Submission of entries via http://bit.ly/NITDA21WCID

The portal will be opened from April 12, 2021, till April 17, 2021.

Entries will be evaluated and assessed by April 19, 2021, and successful ones will be required to do a 5-minute live pitch on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was created in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and coordinate general IT development in the country.

The Act (National Information Technology Development Act (2007) mandate is to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.

The role of NITDA is to develop, regulate and advise on Information technology in the country through regulatory standards, guidelines, and policies. Additionally, NITDA is the clearinghouse for all IT projects and infrastructural development in the country.

It is the prime agency for e-government implementation, Internet governance and general IT development in Nigeria. NITDA is poised to actualize its mammoth mandate through strategic and inclusive stakeholder management, local and international partnership and efficient utilization of resources in the interest of Nigeria.

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Sparkle Launches Service for Small Businesses

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Uzoma Dozie Sparkle

By Adedapo Adesanya

Sparkle, a mobile-first digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle and business support services to Nigerians across the globe, has launched Sparkle Business to help small and medium business enterprises access the much-needed products and services to grow their enterprises digitally.

Sparkle Business features include inventory and invoice Management which will help businesses maintain control over their payment requests and overall operations.

It also has a payment gateway service to manage single and bulk payments more seamlessly, while the tax advisory/calculations will help evaluate business turnover and calculate tax filings.

Payroll/Employee Management, on its part, will manage employee payments and benefits effectively without error or human interventions, and much more.

The platform has been designed with mobile-first, digital native entrepreneurs and companies in mind, who need to run all aspects of their enterprises, at the touch of a button.

Since its launch in 2020, Sparkle has grown a community built on trust and transparency, helping thousands to experience a new, easy, stress-free approach to organising their finances.

In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48 per cent of national GDP, account for 96 per cent of businesses and 84 per cent of employment, however, they often face challenges with making strategic decisions due to a lack of data for key insights into important issues that affect their business.

Built by the Sparkle team to support Nigeria’s millions of SMEs as they scale, Sparkle Business will bring all essential business transactions onto one safe and simple to use platform.

Commenting on the launch, Mr Uzoma Dozie, founder and CEO of Sparkle, said, “SMEs are the largest employer of labour in Nigeria but are lacking access to basic services that will help their businesses.

“We have introduced Sparkle Business as a one-stop-shop, to help individuals to launch their businesses digitally, while meeting existing SMEs’ pain points, and allowing them to pivot to the next level of success.

“We have been afforded this opportunity due to our extensive research and access to data, which allows us to know what exactly SMEs are looking for. We are truly excited about the initial results from the beta test and are looking forward to impactful results for small businesses in the near future.”

Mr Uzoma, having worked in retail banking for over 20 years, has unrivalled experience when it comes to building banking products for businesses adds, “Sparkle was built to allow individuals to be free; Sparkle Business is an extension of this so that business owners can reduce friction when it comes to important administrative transactions.

“We are excited to roll out our new products and services, and to continue to grow an increasingly busy and entrepreneurial group of business owners who don’t want to accept that banking halls and physical paper trails are the only means of conducting business in Nigeria”.

Sparkle Business is live now and can be accessed by current Sparkle users who have registered businesses in Nigeria. To register, individuals will need to have a personal Sparkle account, Tax Identification Number (TIN) and an email address connected to their TIN.

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MasterCard Enables SBI Card Pay Feature

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SBI Card Pay1

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Customers of MasterCard will now be able to use a payment feature based on Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology called SBI Card Pay.

This feature allows customers to create a virtual version of their physical SBI Credit Card on their mobile phones and then tap their phone at Near-Field-Communication (NFC) enabled Point of Sale (POS) terminals to make payments at merchants.

However, to use this service, customers with an Android smartphone (housing Android OS KitKat version 4.4 and above) have to register their SBI Credit Card on the SBI Card mobile application.

This creates a virtual card on their mobile phone for their physical credit card. Thereafter, customers can make payments at merchants simply by unlocking their mobile phone screen using fingerprints, the screen lock facility or an MPIN and tapping the phone at a Near-Field-Communication (NFC) POS.

It was explained that this simple ‘tap and pay’ contactless process makes the card payments swifter, hygienic and more seamless for customers.

Business Post reports that the SBI Card Pay is powered by Comviva’s HCE Module from its mobiquity® banking suite, which provides a comprehensive solution to banks and financial institutions to not only build, manage and control the omnichannel experiences, but also continuously iterate and engage the consumers, through instant configuration capability, marketing automation, personalization, and experimentation engine..

“Safety and security combined with quick and convenient payment experience is at the core of growing India’s digital economy.

“Mastercard is happy to partner with SBI Card and Comviva to bring the benefits of ‘Tap and Pay’ contactless payments to Indian consumers.

“These ‘tap and pay’ payments are secure, seamless, and more importantly are safe in time of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mastercard is confident that the service will offer a better mobile payment experience for SBI Card cardholders. It will also encourage contactless payments, especially in a time when people prefer touch-free transactions in a safe and secure manner.

“With this new launch, Mastercard is strengthening the long-standing partnership with India’s largest pure-play credit card issuer,” the Chief Operating Officer, South Asia at Mastercard, Vikas Varma, commented on the launch.

On his part, the CEO of SBI Card, Mr Rama Mohan Rao Amara, stated that, “SBI Card Pay has redefined the payment experience for our customers.

“The ’Tap and Pay’ contactless experience is not just fast, secure and convenient, but also very relevant in COVID era from a safety perspective as customers simply need to tap their mobile phone on NFC enabled POS terminals to make payments.

“We are happy to extend SBI Card Pay feature on the Mastercard platform too. We believe that contactless payments will continue to play a key role in the country’s digital payments drive and as the supporting infrastructure increases countrywide, adoption is bound to accelerate significantly.”

The COO/EVP, Digital Financial Solutions at Comviva, Srinivas Nidugondi, stated that, “Globally, HCE and tokenization are making card payments frictionless and secure, and we believe that in India also they will redefine the card payment experience and bring it on par with the developed world.

“With the growing NFC POS infrastructure in India and mobile phones becoming de facto wallets for consumers, we expect ‘tap and pay’ services like SBI Card Pay are the future of card payments in India. The inclusion of SBI Cards on Mastercard platform will help to grow the usage of this service in the country.”

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Technology

Yahoo Shuts Down Another Service

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Yahoo Answers

By Adedapo Adesanya

Less than six months after shutting down one of its services, Yahoo has announced that it would no longer operate Yahoo Answers, one of the longest-running and most storied web Questions and Answers platforms in the history of the internet.

The tech giant stated that the services would cease to operate from May 4. Users would be redirected from the Yahoo Answers website to the Yahoo homepage and all of the platform’s archives will apparently stop existing.

The platform has been operating since 2005 but its popularity and use has waned during the rise of competitive platforms like Reddit, Quora, and other internet hangouts.

Yahoo, which is now part of Verizon Media Group, following the company’s sale to the telecom for nearly $5 billion in 2017, announced the change at the top of the Yahoo Answers homepage.

The message links to an FAQ, which details the timeline of the shutdown, adding that from April 20, the platform will no longer accept new submissions.

Users will also have until June 30 to request their data or it will be inaccessible after that. Yahoo noted that this includes “all user-generated content including your Questions list, Questions, Answers list, Answers, and any images.”

However, Yahoo said “you won’t be able to download other users’ content, questions, or answers.”

A note sent to active Yahoo Answers members provides a little more detail as to why Yahoo is shutting down the platform, including that “it has become less popular over the years” and that the company “decided to shift our resources away” from the product to “focus on products that better serve our members.”

The statement

Dear Yahoo Answers Community,

We launched Yahoo Answers sixteen years ago to help people around the world connect and share information. With you and millions of other users, we built the best place on the web to ask and answer questions on a variety of topics, creating a community of global knowledge sharing.

While we could not have been prouder of what we accomplished together, we are reaching out today to let you know that we have decided to shut down Yahoo Answers on May 4th, 2021.

While Yahoo Answers was once a key part of Yahoo’s products and services, it has become less popular over the years as the needs of our members have changed.

To that end, we have decided to shift our resources away from Yahoo Answers to focus on products that better serve our members and deliver on Yahoo’s promise of providing premium trusted content.

Starting on April 20th you will no longer be able to post any new questions or answers. However, you can still view any posted questions and answers until May 4th.

On May 4th the site will be shutting down. If you would like to download a copy of your questions and answers you have posted, you can do this by signing into Your Privacy Dashboard and requesting a download. You will be able to do this until June 30th, 2021 after which your Yahoo Answers data will be securely deleted and no longer available.

The closure of Yahoo Answers will not affect your Yahoo account or other Yahoo services. For further information and instructions on how to download your data, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://help.yahoo.com/kb/SLN35642.html

Thank you for contributing to Yahoo Answers — we’re proud and honoured to have helped you connect with and learn from the Yahoo community these past sixteen years. If you’d like to provide feedback, please feel free to reach out to our team at yahoo_answers_sunset@verizonmedia.com.

Sincerely, The Yahoo Answers team

Follows Shutdown of Yahoo Groups Last Year

Business Post had reported that Yahoo closed its social media platform, Yahoo Groups, last December after almost 20 years of operations.

Yahoo Groups, which was aimed to help users stay connected to their community and friends, has seen a steady decline in usage over the last several years.

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Technology

LG Shuts Down Mobile Phone Business

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LG Mobile phone

By Adedapo Adesanya

LG Electronics Incorporated (LG) has announced the closing of its mobile business unit after five gruelling years of financial losses and uncertainty about the future of its mobile handsets.

In a press release, the company explained that the decision was approved by its board of directors earlier on Monday in South Korea, its global headquarters.

LG’s strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.

LG will provide service support and software updates for customers of existing mobile products for a period of time which will vary by region.

LG will also work collaboratively with suppliers and business partners throughout the closure of the mobile phone business. Details related to employment will be determined at the local level.

Moving forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as Sixth Generation technology (6G) to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas.

It added that core technologies developed during the two decades of LG’s mobile business operations will also be retained and applied to existing and future products.

The wind-down of the mobile phone business is expected to be completed by July 31 although the inventory of some existing models may still be available after that.

In March, it was reported that LG was considering exiting the smartphone industry, although, at the time, rumours suggested the company was aiming to sell the business instead of a complete shutdown. However, the lack of significant growth and mainstream adoption in recent years meant it was unable to find a potential buyer.

LG Electronics is a South Korean multinational electronics company headquartered in Yeouido-dong, Seoul, South Korea.

The company was established in 1958 and has since led the way into the advanced digital era, thanks to the technological expertise acquired by manufacturing many home appliances such as radios and TVs.

LG Electronics has unveiled many new products, applied new technologies in the form of mobile devices and digital TVs in the 21st century and continues to reinforce its status as a global company.

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The blockchain brings new financing options to the business market. For example, Bitcoin Cash casino has adapted to only using cryptocurrency. This way, it makes it easier for their customers to deposit and withdraw in a BCH casino. Entrepreneurs have taken note of this and are looking to invest more in crypto than in fiat markets.

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