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MTN Grants Ugandan Developers Open Access to Mobile Money API

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MTN Grants Ugandan Developers Open Access to Mobile Money API

By Dipo Olowookere

Africa’s leading telecom company, MTN Group, has granted access to third-parties to its Mobile Money Access Programming Interface (API) in Uganda.

With this, developers can now access, create products that ease payment options and leverage the 10M of MTN clients registered on Mobile Money.

An Open API platform enables developers and programmers to get free access to MTN mobile money proprietary software platform. MTN Mobile Money is the most widely used mobile money platform in Uganda.

General Manager of Mobile Financial Services at MTN Uganda, Ms Elsa Muzzolini, stated that, “This is an exciting development for the Ugandan start-ups ecosystem.

“Innovators will now be able to develop applications that ease the customer experience in terms of mobile money payments. We do hope that this move will spur innovation in the developer community around the country because this is the first time this is being done here.”

In January 2018, MTN Uganda and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) entered a partnership intended to drive customer growth and activity by facilitating a wider range of mobile wallet applications for all customers through open APIs. According to CGAP, open APIs have the potential to further drive financial inclusion, which is already being accelerated by the usage of mobile money.

“Our expectations are that this decision will enable innovators to monetise their products, ensure that there is fast turnaround of innovations to get to market and improve the value created for innovators and entrepreneurs, why not a Ugandan Ebay or Amazon in the next few months” Ms Muzzolini added.

The MTN Mobile Money API will be accessed by developers online through http://MoMoDeveloper.MTN.com/.

This takes away the process previously where developers had to submit paperwork physically to MTN Uganda and to proceed to a lengthy standard integration.

The online system provides an option where before developer’s product goes live, they can test it using a sandbox available at no cost on the website.

Meanwhile, MTN has announced the launch of Ugx1bn ($270,000) Startup Fund that will be accessed by local technology start-ups in Uganda. The fund is expected to provide a financial boost to startups that participate in the MTN innovation challenge series.

The first of these is the MTN Open API Challenge starts on 3 December 2018. Participants will make their entries on the innovation challenge website.

“It has been 20 years since we started operating in Uganda and our role in this economy has been evolving. Today, opening the Mobile Money API further emphasises our ambition of being a digital company.

“Ugandan developers now have the opportunity to build products that will enhance financial inclusion, improved customer experience when making payments and improve the movement of virtual money,” said Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda CEO.

“The Shs1bn commitment we have made towards the MTN Startup Fund also forms part of that ambition to continue supporting local innovators. I encourage as many startups as possible to participate in the several innovation challenges we shall be hosting in order to access funding from the MTN Startup Fund,” Vanhelleputte added.

MTN Uganda unveiled Ugx310m ($81,000) high speed internet connectivity package to the Innovation Village, courtesy of the MTN Foundation. The package includes free internet connectivity for use by young developers and innovators as part of its youth empowerment drive.

There has been a tremendous success in countries like Kenya where some telecom companies have opened up their Mobile Money APIs. MTN Uganda in partnership with several technology and innovation hubs around the country is facilitating the training of developers on how to use the platform.

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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MTN Partners Huawei to Deploy Premium Wi-Fi Service in Nigeria

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MTN Group Premium Wifi service

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

To improve the experience of end-users on its network, MTN Nigeria has partnered with Huawei to launch a premium Wi-Fi service in the country.

According to MTN Nigeria’s Chief Technical Officer, Mr Mohammed Rufai, the deployment of the premium Wi-Fi is geared around delivering a superior user experience with high technology.

He stated that this also became necessary due to an increase of smart home device quantiles and new types of services such as video clips and online games which demand a better home network quality.

MTN is working with Huawei on an Autonomous Driving Network project, including various innovative practices such as target architecture design, autonomous level evaluation and high-value use-cases of autonomous networks.

“Home network experience has become a vital area in improving network quality for us. In addition, we want to solve problems such as Wi-Fi interference, coordination between home network terminals and Wi-Fi coverage which occurs frequently and leads to a large proportion of user complaints,” Mr Rufai said.

 “With this, we can proactively identify and accurately locate fault points on home networks. It will help us to improve O&M efficiency and reduce customer complaints,” says Daniel Smith, a senior engineer with the MTN Group.

“In the future, MTN and Huawei will implement more innovations regarding network automation and intelligence, quickly deploy them on the live network to promptly deliver superior user experience of high tech,” he concluded.

The premium Wi-Fi can play back the historical home Wi-Fi performance in the last seven days. It demarcates faults based on speed tests by segment and diagnoses major issues in just one click to rectify problems in the cloud.

Besides, with the self-trouble shooting function on the mobile app, home broadband users are able to solve certain network problems by themselves, allowing them to manage the broadband performance much easier.

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Cyber Attacks: Africa Must Encourage Digital Skills Development—Experts

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Adopt Digital Skills

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Urgent steps must be taken by African leaders to encourage general digital skills to tackle cyber-attacks and crimes on the continent, some experts in the industry have advised.

Speaking at the April edition of the Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) event, the stakeholders warned that if efforts are not taken, the governments, citizens and businesses may suffer “catastrophic consequences.”

It was stressed that at the moment, Africa is struggling to match its counterparts in the other parts of the globe due to a shortage of general digital skills caused by brain drain.

At the workshop themed Addressing the Cybersecurity Skills Quagmire, the founder/CEO of Digital Jewels, Mrs Doyin Odunfa, in her presentation, lamented that the shortage of general digital skills at all levels is expected to become more critical as economies grow, noting that the supply of digitally skilled labour must also increase to meet anticipated labour market needs.

She observed that highly skilled African professionals have been emigrating from African countries to pursue lucrative cultural and socio-economic opportunities on other continents leading to a brain drain and skills gap on the continent.

Whilst proffering solutions, she recommended intentional development of digital skills at all levels, smart technology support, collaboration with the Diaspora and strategic supply to Africa and Western economies.

“These young Africans are looking for higher-paying jobs outside Africa to escape socio-economic limitations such as poverty, limited infrastructure, and rudimentary jobs.

“They look for enabling environments in developed countries that provide rewarding businesses and obtain lucrative jobs, matching skilled individuals’ aspirations and expected socio-economic recompense.

“Many highly talented African students that obtain opportunities and scholarships of training abroad do not return home after completing studies,” Mrs Odunfa stated.

In his welcome address, the president of ISSAN, Mr David Isiavwe, said the brain drain in Africa as well as the digital skills shortage currently being experienced around the world calls for concern.

According to him, “The cyber threat landscape is still evolving. The cybersecurity space keeps getting very busy by the day. We have seen how daring cybercriminals can be, targeting both national assets and highly reputable firms. Even individuals are not left out.

“Consequently, it becomes imperative that organizations never relent in upholding and reinforcing information security best practices.”

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of Stanbic IBTC, Abumere Igboa; CISO of Heritage Bank, Eduje Ighoakpo; CISO of First Bank, Harrison Nnaji; CISO of Standard Chartered Bank, Oghenefovie Oyawari and the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Digital Jewels, Tokunbo Taiwo, were the other speakers at the gathering.

ISSAN is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace. It is significantly involved in ensuring the security of banking systems and applications, ATMs, e-government systems, and the entire cyberspace in Nigeria.

The group also seeks to achieve its objectives through awareness heightening measures including the promotion of appropriate legislation and best practices.

Membership cuts across both public and private sectors of the economy including Banks, Telecommunications Operators, Government parastatals, switching companies, IT and IT security consultancies, Legal Practitioners with a keen interest in cyber-related matters, and regulators.

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Interswitch Receives Fresh Funds from LeapFrog, Tana

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Interswitch

By Adedapo Adesanya

LeapFrog Investments (LeapFrog) and Tana Africa Capital (Tana) have invested in Interswitch, one of Africa’s technology-driven companies focused on the digitisation of payments.

In a joint statement from both companies, the exact amount was not disclosed, but it was stated that the investment will assist in supporting the company’s drive to advance the payment ecosystem across the continent.

A portion of the investment has been acquired from existing shareholders, with Ignite Holdco Limited, made up of Helios Investment Partners and TA Associates, remaining the largest shareholder in the business following the transaction.

Interswitch Group CEO, Mr Mitchell Elegbe, in a statement, said the company was “excited to welcome LeapFrog and Tana on board, as we continue our work to advance the future of the African payments landscape.”

This will further advance its offerings after it launched some new products in March.

The services unveiled include an enhanced Biometrics feature for Point of Sale (PoS) terminals & Automated Teller Machines (ATMs); Tokenization, and Card Fusion, with the services addressing digital payment fraud, problems with card issuance and portfolio management.

Interswitch, in collaboration with SterlingPRO, designed the Biometrics on Point of Sale (PoS) and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to protect customers against digital payment fraud and to avail them faster and more convenient ways to validate payments. The solution utilizes physiological features unique to everyone such as fingerprints, voice, and facial features to verify payment transactions.

Tokenization on the other hand replaces sensitive data such as the 16-digit account information with a unique digital identifier known as a token. Tokenization will enable merchants to fast-track and collect payment seamlessly, enabling customers to check out faster in-store, in-app and online.

In addition, Card Fusion is a web-based instant card issuance platform that enables banks to conclude new card production requests and issue cards within a very short time, thus enhancing their customers’ experience while customers get to personalize their cards instantly.

Interswitch is one of Africa’s largest electronic payments and infrastructure companies and services providing online banking system offerings in areas like point-of-sale terminals, online consumer payment platforms, Quickteller, and Verve, the biggest domestic debit card scheme in Africa, issuing over 35 million active cards since launch.

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