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dotAfrica the Best Option for Africa in Cyberspace—Expert

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Internet Services

By Dipo Olowookere

The use of owning an internet address or domain name ending with .africa has been described as the best option for Africa in the cyberspace.

Already, more than 8000 of the continent’s and world’s biggest brands, businesses and individuals have registered for this exciting new Internet address.

Diverse organisations ranging from banks to media companies are registering .africa domain names. “Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are valuable virtual real estate,” says Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name on behalf of the continent.

54 countries in Africa are now united under a single, continent-wide domain name, staying true to the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s. These written resolutions stated that ICT will be central to Africa’s future wellbeing and .africa is surely amongst the top African-led ICT initiatives of the last twenty years.

“Initiatives like .africa help harness the power of new technologies to solve old problems. .africa is unique in that it gives Africans an important sense of pride to help motivate them to achieve the very best for their continent and themselves. ZACR appeals to all Africans to take ownership of .africa, because it truly belongs to us all,” concludes Masilela.

.africa domain names are now available and anyone can register through companies listed on http://Registry.Africa/registrars.

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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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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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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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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Accelerex Eyes Ghanaian Retail Market for Expansion

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Accelerex Ghana

By Adedapo Adesanya

Leading pan-African fintech company, Accelerex Ghana, is eyeing Ghana’s buzzing retail market after being granted an enhanced Payment Service Provider (PSP) licence by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), under the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987).

This makes Accelerex Ghana the only fintech organisation currently within the enhanced PSP category that provides physical e-payment devices, merchant acquiring, and agency banking solutions in the West African country.

The move came on the heels of the ISO 27001:2013 and PCI-DSS certifications recently obtained by the company. It is believed that the development will open the Ghanaian market to more electronic payment and transaction possibilities across different platforms and channels.

Speaking on the achievements, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Accelerex Ghana, Mr Sebastian Yalley, noted that, “through our continuous product innovation and impeccable attention to customer needs, the company has gradually emerged as the financial technology company of choice for Ghanaian businesses.

“At Accelerex, standardization and compliance remain the bedrock of our operations across all subsidiaries in Africa.

“We believe that having this licence from the Bank of Ghana is a demonstration of our commitment to the Ghanaian market, and serves as the foundation for rolling out simple, secure, and convenient e-payment and digital transaction solutions for all customer segments.

“We intend to use this as a leverage to deepen our existing relationships with our bank clients. In that same spirit of collaboration, we are open to working with other fintech companies to deliver superior value to customers.”

Buoyed by this major milestone, which permits the company to offer electronic payment platforms and applications, agency banking, merchant payment collections, payment terminal management and terminal aggregator management systems, Accelerex Ghana is eyeing the retail segment with its new revolutionary products – RexPay and RexRetail, set to launch in Q2 of 2021. These products will help the company deepen its footprints in Ghana and cement its position as a leader in the e-payment space.

RexPay is an online payment gateway that helps social media sellers and corporate organizations receive payments in a fast, convenient and secure manner, even without owning a website. Customers enjoy multiple payment options and can make payments seamlessly wherever they are. Sellers can sign up easily to the RexPay platform in less than five minutes, then begin to receive payments instantly.

RexRetail, an all-in-one solution for small and medium-sized retail shops, helps retailers automate their everyday operations. It is a superb tool for inventory management, customer relationship management and seamless accounting. More importantly, RexRetail supports business owners with a reporting and analytics tool that helps them keep track of the performance of their business.

A member of the Accelerex Holdings Group, with footprints in Nigeria and Kenya, Accelerex Ghana commenced operations in the country in 2019 as a financial technology company offering offline and online payment services to its target markets. Its parent company, Accelerex Holdings, recently secured a $20 million investment from African Capital Alliance to drive new product development and expand to South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania.

Accelerex Ghana has a strong bias for innovation, world-class technology and excellent customer service. It intends to extend the availability of its products and services to different categories of businesses in Ghana with the aim of spreading accessibility of financial technology and digital payments.

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Technology

PayPal Launches Crypto Checkout Service

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PayPal Crypto Checkout Service

By Ahmed Rahma

PayPal Holdings Incorporated has taken a move to significantly boost the use of the digital asset in everyday commerce by allowing consumers in the United States to use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay at millions of its online merchants globally.

The company is expected to make this announcement via Twitter on Tuesday.

But the CEO of PayPal, Mr Dan Schulman, has already informed Reuters that, “This is the first time you can seamlessly use cryptocurrencies in the same way as a credit card or a debit card inside your PayPal wallet.”

It was explained that customers who hold any of Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin in PayPal digital wallets will now be able to convert their holdings into fiat currencies at checkouts to make purchases.

It was also stated that customers will not be charged the transaction fee to checkout service with crypto and only one type of coin can be used for each purchase.

The service, which PayPal revealed it was working on late last year, will be available at all of its 29 million merchants in the coming months, the company said.

Checkout with crypto builds on the ability for PayPal users to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies, which the San Jose, California-based payments company launched in October.

The offering made PayPal one of the largest mainstream financial companies to open its network to cryptocurrencies and helped fuel a rally in virtual coin prices.

Bitcoin has nearly doubled in value since the start of this year, boosted by increased interest from larger financial firms that are betting on greater adoption and see it as a hedge against inflation.

PayPal’s launch comes less than a week after Tesla said it would start accepting bitcoin payments for its cars. Unlike PayPal transactions where merchants will be receiving fiat currency, Tesla said it will hold the bitcoin used as payment.

Still, while the asset is gaining traction among mainstream investors, it has yet to become a widespread form of payment, due in part to its continued volatility.

PayPal hopes its service can change that, as by settling the transaction in fiat currency, merchants will not take on the volatility risk.

“We think it is a transitional point where cryptocurrencies move from being predominantly an asset class that you buy, hold and or sell to now becoming a legitimate funding source to make transactions in the real world at millions of merchants,” Mr Schulman said.

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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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