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Opera Launches ‘Hype’ Inbuilt Mobile Browser Chat

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Opera Hype

By Adedapo Adesanya

Norwegian app giant, Opera, has launched Hype, its new dedicated chat service built into the popular Opera Mini browser in Africa.

Set in the pilot market of Kenya, Hype is the first African inspired chat service built into a mobile browser.

With Hype, Opera reimagines the chat experience, with content sharing as a key feature; Opera Mini, with more than 100 million users worldwide, becomes the world’s first mobile browser with an integrated chat service.

With the introduction of Hype in the Opera Mini browser, Opera is rethinking the concept of mobile browsers providing its users with a personalized, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless surfing, chatting and sharing content– without compromising speed or driving increased data consumption.

Speaking on this, the Product Lead for Hype Mr Charles Hamel said, “Chat services and browsers are apps people use every day and feel very personal about.

“With the integration of Hype in Opera Mini, we are not only rethinking what a chat service should be like in 2021 but also changing the very definition of what a mobile browser should be.”

Hype is launching first in Kenya as a pilot market and starting today, users will be able to easily set up their Hype account and begin chatting with secure end-to-end encryption.

This launch is a facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, with the goal of bringing more people online; since 2018, Opera has grown its user base in Africa by 40 per cent.

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Speaking further, Mr Hamel explained that, “Hype was developed first and foremost with African consumers in mind. Today, 40 per cent of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations dominating as 75 per cent of their 47 million inhabitants are under 30 years old.

“With such early adopter demographics at play, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya. On top of that, we are also partnering with the leading telecommunication carriers in the country, offering daily free browsing to all Opera Mini users. We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”

This announcement follows similar browser innovation from Opera, which was the first to integrate messenger services as part of their PC browser, in 2019.

Today, its more than 80 million users enjoy the integration of services such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter.

Looking further into the features, Hype infuses new formats like memes and stickers for users to express themselves, often relating to pop culture references and internet content they find. To make this easier and fun, Hype also adds WebSnap, a feature previously known from the Opera desktop browser, that allows users to take snapshots from the web.

Once a websnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colours, text, and emojis, making it fun and entertaining before sharing with others.

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It also offers its users a series of stickers created by Kenyan artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitololo. These unique collections of stickers reflect everyday expressions used by Kenyans to provide users with a more engaging experience when communicating with others.

“This comes in handy as users no longer need to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the content they want.

“We are extremely happy to celebrate African culture with Hype and we are very excited with the end result and the collaboration we had with Brian and Lulu.” added Mr Hamel.

“These unique stickers with original designs are something we are very proud of at Opera as we become the first major browser to integrate real African art and pop culture into our products.”

The introduction of Hype in Kenya is part of Opera’s Africa First business strategy, adopted three years ago by the Norwegian company. This strategy consists of four main pillars: 1) Develop products with African consumers in mind; 2) Invest and grow Opera’s digital ecosystem in the African region to bring more people online; 3) Partner with leading global and regional companies; and 4) Employ and collaborate with African colleagues and stakeholders.

The latest population census in Kenya, published in 2019, reported that the country is strongly youthful. Of Kenya’s 47 million inhabitants, 75 per cent are under 30 years old, with children and adolescents representing 63 per cent of the total population.

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To this, Mr Hamel said, “Hype was developed first and foremost with African consumers in mind. Today, 40% of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations becoming early adopters of technology.

“With such demographics, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya. On top of that, we are also partnering with Safaricom and Airtel, the leading carriers in the country, offering free daily browsing to all Opera Mini users.

“We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Opera user base reached 380 million monthly active users worldwide, with nearly 150 million monthly active users (MAUs) based in Africa. Since the announcement of Opera’s Africa First strategy in Q1-2018, Opera has grown its user base by 40 per cent in the African region.

This rapid growth in the region gives Opera a unique position to scale its digital ecosystem infrastructure and leverage its brand awareness and recognition. Opera also gives more value to its users by introducing new products and features that truly address the needs of its users locally.

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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2021 FOYA Awards Nomination Thrills Chidi Nwaogu

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2021 FOYA Awards Chidi Nwaogu

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A serial tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Publiseer and Savvy, Mr Chidi Nwaogu, has been nominated as Techpreneur of the Year at the 2021 FOYA Awards.

The event is an annual awards ceremony since 2016, which was conceived to serve the strategic objective to retain, reward, and recognize high-quality entrepreneurs and SMEs in Africa.

The nomination has thrilled Mr Nwaogu and has expressed optimism of winning the category as Publiseer, a digital content distribution company, has helped over 6,000 underserved African creatives living in low-income and disadvantaged communities to earn a living from the sales of their creative works.

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The platform has been described by Konbini as “one of the largest digital publishers in Africa” and identified by IFC as one of the startups “that could speed up innovation in Africa.”

The nominee is also the co-founder and Head of Program at Savvy, a global fellowship program that has equipped over 3,900 passionate and brilliant young individuals from 136 countries, with the necessary knowledge, skills, resources, tools, and support community that they need to start their own impact-driven business in a post-COVID era and succeed as social entrepreneurs.

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For his works at Publiseer, Mr Nwaogu won the 2020 Migration Entrepreneurship Prize by the Swiss Government, the 2019 Africa 35.35 Award for Entrepreneurship, the 2019 Young Leaders Award for Media and Entertainment, and the 2019 Bizz Business Excellence Award.

He is a 2020 Acumen Fellow (West Africa), 2020 Alibaba eFounders Fellow (China), 2019 Westerwelle Fellow (Germany), 2019 African Presidential Leadership Fellow (Cairo), and 2019 Yunus&Youth Fellow (New York).

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FOYA Awards is designed to recognize and appreciate young founders contributing to the African continent’s economic growth while creating employment and other income-generating opportunities through entrepreneurship, thereby inspiring others to be founders in their own right.

The platform has developed into a convening agent for actors in the youthful entrepreneurship ecosystem attracting and stewarding access to relevant investors, not-for-profit leaders, influential personalities, and government officials to address everyday challenges and devise impactful, lasting solutions.

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Study Shows 70% of Nigerian Businesses Unaware of Privacy Laws

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privacy laws

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A recent survey conducted by WorldWideWorx and commissioned by a global technology company, Zoho, has revealed that 70 per cent of Nigerian businesses are unaware of privacy laws governing their marketing activities.

This is despite the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) being in effect since 2019. The survey also revealed that even though businesses are concerned about the privacy of customer’s data in the hands of third-party vendors, they are reliant on them for revenue generation and gathering customer insights. This makes it harder for them to move away.

The CEO of WorldWideWorx, Mr Arthur Goldstuck, said the lack of awareness about the law is largely because these regulations are not part of business-critical activities like taxation and licensing.

However, he noted that 78 per cent of the businesses indicated that they have well-documented policies for customer data protection.

“This is likely following fear of NDPR violation, which has made headlines in Nigeria, even so, only 60 per cent are strictly applying them,” said Mr Goldstuck.

Third-Party Trackers and Ad Platforms

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Of the 319 businesses surveyed across various industries and sizes, 45 per cent said they allow third-party trackers on their website, mostly for sharing content on social media (62 per cent) and gathering analytics on their website visitors (35 per cent).

There is also heavy dependence on digital ad platforms. The respondents believe that keyword search ads (59 per cent) and social media ads (52 per cent) are quite effective for customer conversion.

In fact, 78 per cent of businesses said the third-party ad platforms either help them meet or are a primary factor in achieving their sales goals.

Given this reliance on third-party vendors, it is no wonder then that, even though 85 per cent of businesses express concern over the use of their customer’s data, they are largely either ‘comfortable’ or ‘neither comfortable nor uncomfortable’ with the platforms.

Even the 18 per cent who are ‘uncomfortable’, state that they cannot move away from the platforms as they are crucial to their business or that it is too complex to move away.

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Interestingly, 24 per cent of businesses reported that they do not completely understand how third-party trackers and ad platforms utilise the collected customer information.

“When businesses choose to use a free tracker, they are paying for it with their consumer’s data,” said Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager for Africa, Zoho. “At Zoho, we refer to this practice of third-party trackers collecting data without user knowledge as adjunct surveillance. Presently, Nigerian businesses turn a blind eye to this passive data collection by trackers, most likely, because they are dependent on them for revenue.

“However, consumers will eventually trust companies with transparent privacy policies that protect their personal information. Businesses hoping to stay relevant in the long term will need to either rethink their reliance on third-party platforms or demand greater transparency and accountability from them.”

Zoho had removed third-party trackers from its website in 2020 and has never sold customer data to anyone or shown ads, even in their free products.

Zoho also owns its data centres and the entire technology stack of its solutions. It can, therefore, assure its users of the highest standards of privacy and security.

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On NDPR

Nigerian businesses believe that NDPR has had either no effect (39 per cent) or a positive effect (42 per cent). Their biggest concerns with the law are increased complexity (36 per cent) and the increased cost of governance (34 per cent). As per Mr Goldstuck, the cost of governance will be a major concern for SMEs.

For context, all businesses in Nigeria (regardless of size) need to appoint a privacy/information officer to oversee the protection of customer information.

Larger businesses can appoint their CIOs or IT leads in this new role, while smaller businesses may have to appoint their managing directors or business owners in the same role.

For smaller businesses, in particular, this can be a daunting task as the person in charge can be held personally liable for data leaks or breaches as per the law.

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Truecaller Rolls Out SMS Filter Feature

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Truecaller

By Adedapo Adesanya

The world’s most trusted and accurate Caller ID and telephone search engine, Truecaller, is rolling out a new feature called Smart SMS to further augment the user experience.

It has been introduced based on user feedback and is designed to cater to the evolving needs of our consumers and the new feature offers a host of new services to make day-to-day communication a lot more convenient.

It is powered by state-of-the-art machine learning models that adapt based on the feedback given to it and supports users with important messages from banks, billers, travel companies, delivery companies and so much more.

Smart SMS also helps users stay protected from spam and fraud. Only the essential information within an SMS is highlighted and all SMS messages are categorised and easily accessible.

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Truecaller noted that from keeping track of users expenses to last-minute changes to your travel, Smart SMS is the future of SMS that will make life a whole lot easier.

Commenting on the new addition, Mr Zakaria Abdulkadir Hersi, Director of Business Development & Partnerships Africa at Truecaller said: “Roughly 80% of SMSes one receives daily are from businesses, disengaging users from important/useful messages. To combat that, SMS apps need to become smarter by filtering out spam and categorising useful information.

“At Truecaller, we constantly strive to offer the best user experience by adding unique features that fit in with our core mission: to make communication safer and more efficient for everyone.

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“Truecaller has evolved into a powerful communication hub and for the people who wish to use the app to its fullest, we want to streamline the experience as much as possible for an efficient calling and messaging experience for our end user.”

Truecaller uses the same powerful algorithms used to identify spam callers in SMS as well. The SMS intelligence is built into the app itself and it can work offline – nothing leaves your device, including all OTPs, bank SMSes and financial information.

The feature also offers a Smart Inbox that identifies unknown SMS sender numbers and SMS sender IDs are resolved to business names with logos.

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Truecaller helps users know who’s getting in touch by providing a search engine for telephone numbers, filtering out unwanted calls and SMS and focusing on what really matters.

The company provides services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging & more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe & efficient.

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi & Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico & Kleiner Perkins.

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