By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Innovative fintech and payment startups across Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa have been invited to the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) 2022.
The global platform will give participants the opportunity to showcase their products and innovations to a wider audience and also get a chance to win $45,000 in prize money.
Winners of the competition will be awarded monetary prizes and the opportunity to partner with a global, trusted brand like Visa.
This year’s program has expanded to include startups that are using cryptocurrency and Visa Direct, a payment solution that can help businesses move money to billions of endpoints worldwide via card and account rails, in innovative ways.
Finalists from across the world that are driving economic growth will converge in Qatar this November for the VEI finals.
“Fintechs and other payments innovators are transforming the way consumers and businesses make payments, making it easier for more people to access the money they need when they need it – and the pandemic has seen this become more critical than ever,” said Kemi Okusanya, Vice President, Visa West Africa.
“Competing on a global stage alongside some of the most prestigious startups in the world and, more importantly, being able to receive that global exposure and support from a trusted brand like Visa was an exceptional achievement for PAYZE,” said Giorgi Tsurtsumia, co-founder and co-CEO of PAYZE as well as 2021 VEI CEMEA Winner.
PAYZE is an e-commerce-oriented fintech that enables businesses across CIS countries to accept payments from around the world through a single integration. With the support of Visa’s network and a cash prize of $25,000, the PAYZE team is busy fulfilling their vision, having processed more than 250,000 transactions across 2021.
The competition also saw Karachi-based fintech, Safepay, win the CEMEA Audience Favorite award and $10,000 in prize money. Safepay specializes in secure payment processing for e-commerce stores and helps merchants increase checkout conversions, expedite receivables, and streamline sales by allowing their customers to pay online.
The VEI network includes 8,500 startups from around the world, which continues to grow every year. Since its launch in 2015, the program has helped startups from over 100 countries collectively raise more than $2.5 billion in funding, addressing one of the biggest challenges faced by early-stage entrepreneurs.
Every year, the scope of VEI is expanded to engage with unique startups and solve unique problems in the world of payments.
This year, the program will have a clear focus on Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA), a region with tremendous opportunity for fintechs that are developing innovative products and solutions aimed at supporting the community. The latest edition of VEI sees two new editions in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as the global finale in Qatar in November 2022.
Interswitch Launches API Platform for Developers
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An easy-to-integrate Application Programmable Interfaces (API) platform designed for developers for creating digital products and solutions for Africans has been introduced by Interswitch.
The interface has internal APIs, partner APIs, and infrastructure APIs designed to empower Africa’s digital ecosystem. It also serves as a one-stop shop for innovators in the tech ecosystem who seek to build viable, market-fit products that address local needs.
To attract innovators, the firm, which prides itself as Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company, has introduced a referral system to reward developers who refer merchants to use its APIs.
At the unveiling of the API platform on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at the Zone Tech Park, Gbagada, Lagos, the Managing Director of Paymate, Interswitch Group, Mr Muyiwa Asagba, stated that the tech giant remains focused on providing digitally empowering products for developers and business owners who are crafting solutions for the everyday African.
Over time, Interswitch has continued to champion the development of the continent’s technology ecosystem through strategic partnerships and the democratization of developer and business integration tools that help tech creators and small business owners produce market-ready products within a short period.
“For two decades, Interswitch has consolidated its efforts in its support for the growth of the African tech ecosystem by availing developers with valuable resources that enable them to build commercially viable products with ease.
“Away from that, we also take seriously the need to innovate so as to stay ahead of the pack, which is a core part of who we are as an evolving technology brand,” Mr Asagba said.
On his part, the Business Development Manager for Merchant Acquisition at Interswitch, Mr Sunday Olaniyan stated that, “Developers will earn 5% of every transaction fee that Interswitch charges on their referred merchants for 5 years.”
Also speaking at the unveiling event, Abdul-Hafiz Ibrahim, Group Head, Engineering, Paymate, Interswitch, noted, “Launching our API Platform was driven by the need to make API integration seamless for developers without the bureaucratic hurdles that have characterized the API-integrating system over the past few years.
“Not only are we making products and solutions development faster, but we are also creating an interface where developers can communicate, share ideas and offer solutions at an accelerated pace.”
To expand its goal of creating a sustainable African tech hub, Interswitch remains a firm supporter of initiatives that spur conversations around the evolution of the Nigerian, and in general, African tech ecosystem. This was expressed in its recent support of the Nigerian Fintech Forum where seasoned experts across sectors including Fintechs, telcos, and banks were in the audience.
Meta Warns Users About Malware in Fake YouTube, WhatsApp Apps
By Adedapo Adesanya
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp has raised an alarm over a dangerous new malware in fake YouTube and WhatsApp apps.
The company in its latest Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report 2022 said the new threat named Dracarys is being injected into fake versions of popular apps such as WhatsApp and YouTube.
According to the report, this malware strain is capable of stealing call logs, contact information, files, SMS texts, geolocation, and device details from an Android device as well as taking photos secretly, enabling the phone or tablet’s microphone.
The latest report revealed that the Dracarys malware is named after the famous Game of Thrones dragon attack order, which is run by the hacking group Bitter APT, which operates out of South Asia. This hacking group has been said to attack users from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, India, and Pakistan.
“We found Bitter using a new custom Android malware family we named Dracarys. Notably, it used accessibility services, a feature in the Android operating system to assist users with disabilities, to automatically click through and grant the app certain permissions without the user having to do it.”
“Bitter injected Dracarys into trojanized (non-official) versions of YouTube, Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp, and custom chat applications capable of accessing call logs, contacts, files, text messages, geolocation, device information, taking photos, enabling microphone, and installing apps.
“While the malware functionality is fairly standard, as of this writing, malware and its supporting infrastructure has not been detected by existing public anti-virus systems. It shows that Bitter has managed to reimplement common malicious functionality in a way that went undetected by the security community for some time,” it added.
The Bitter APT group, which has been active since 2013, has previously targeted the energy, engineering, and government sectors with Remote Access Trojans (RATs) that were spread via spear-phishing emails or by the exploitation of known flaws. In 2021, for instance, researchers found the group exploiting a zero-day privilege escalation flaw (CVE-2021-1732) in the Windows 10 operating system.
Four Ways Young Nigerians Can Enhance Their Digital Skills for Free
By Sean Riley
The start-up economy in Africa is booming, but all that noise makes it hard to get the correct message across to the right customers. In order to thrive, new businesses require the marketing skills relevant in our current digital age, and there has never been a better time to be a digital marketeer, capturing audiences and achieving business targets by curating campaigns and crafting narratives.
Lagos has been ranked the best city for start-ups by StartupBlink, maintaining its standing as the continent’s sole entry, within the top 100 global destinations, to stake a digital business. Moreover, in Nigeria the digital sector is contributing about 10% to the GDP, making Nigeria the best home for digital skills in the continent.
That said, the youth unemployment rate in Nigeria has accelerated to over 53% during the pandemic. Many of these so-called digital natives, born during the digital age, despite their confidence in engaging in the digital world, lack the skills or the funds to unlock the potential of this emerging tech market through traditional academic streams. There are, however, still other paths that can be explored.
Get a Digital Ad Degree
Aleph, a global leader in digital advertising, is the driving force behind the geographic expansion of the world’s biggest tech companies, across emerging markets. Aleph is committed to educating more than 50,000 people across over 90 countries, thus forming the core of the next generation of digital professionals.
The training is provided through Digital Ad Expert, featuring the flagship programme of Digital Ad Degree, all you need is access to the internet and to Zoom. The course runs over 12 weeks with a mix of live and on-demand sessions, covering the basics of strategy and analytics, as well as platform-specific advertising methodologies for all the major social media platforms.
The Aleph degree awards badges upon completion allowing you to showcase acquired skills across all social profiles. The programme also provides overviews of the current Nigerian and Ghanaian job markets so that you can put your skills immediately into practice.
The Latest Research
Digital Ad Expert also benefits from Aleph’s industry leadership through regular uploads, featuring the latest marketing trends and insights from the company. Tap into a unique well of knowledge and content to enhance your digital skills, enabling you to stay ahead of the competition, and discover real-world examples from the experts.
While social media can seem overwhelming, it can also be a valuable learning tool, allowing you to interact directly with your role models, and locate mentors. The Twitter Spaces tab is your door to topical discussions that are relevant to your interests and is the perfect way to further expand your digital understanding, wherever you are, at your convenience.
Similarly, by applying the same strategy to podcasts and you’ll quickly build an audio library that will enrich your personal skills and feed your future career ambitions.
Watch and Learn
True digital natives already know that almost anything can be learnt from watching a few YouTube videos, but what you might not know is that the development of digital skills is no exception. The real magic of the internet is in the flood of webinars you can attend for free.
Yes, the pandemic taught workplaces that workers can be productive outside of the office and that anyone can host a webinar. Therefore, keep a close eye open for event listings on relevant industry association websites (such as IAB for digital marketers), and discover an endless list of informative sessions to attend.
Sign up to Ad Experts for Free
Applications for the next group of Digital Ad Expert are now open. The first session is scheduled to kick off on August 17th, 2022. Candidates can apply to complete a free three-month comprehensive digital ad degree here. The program will be conducted in English, twice weekly, over Zoom.
Sean Riley is the CEO of Ad Dynamo by Aleph
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