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Strengthening Fintech Ecosystem through Partnerships

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“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This statement aptly describes the success achieved in the financial and payment landscape in Nigeria through the strategic partnership between fintechs and banks in the financial services industry.

Years ago, daring criminals would unleash mayhem on unsuspecting victims coming from banking halls and dispossess them of their valuables.  This was because consumers had to move around with cash.

At the time, the majority of the people living in both urban and rural areas were unbanked and did not have access to financial products and services.

But as technology evolved and the digitalization of businesses became imperative to fit current realities, banks had to re-evaluate their service model and operational strategies. The need to transition into a digital wholesale banking system was inevitable.

The adoption of technology in service delivery such as banking, e-commerce, logistics etc. has contributed to the growth of fintech companies. With collaboration, fintechs have increasingly developed solutions that have been deployed across industries to enhance payment collection, efficiency and fund security. These partnerships between the fintechs and industry players have helped to accelerate product innovation, drive growth and provide top-notch solutions across the board.

The partnership between the fintech and the banking community has brought about innovative solutions such as funds transfer, on-demand bank statement, instant transaction alerts, payment authorization, loan request and disbursement, etc. Thanks to these innovative payment solutions, bank customers and account holders do not have to visit the banks often as they can initiate and complete transactions from the comfort of their homes.

Also, fintechs have leveraged partnerships with other service providers, such as power distribution companies (DISCOs), telecoms companies, ride-hailing services and utility companies to strengthen the payment ecosystem. These partnerships have further deepened financial inclusion and increased adoption of digital payment solutions, enhanced access to loans and other financial services such as funds transfer, bill payments, DSTV subscription, airtime recharge, and so on. These partnerships have helped the service providers collect payment seamlessly as well as allowing the customers to pay with ease.

Following these partnerships, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the adoption of electronic payments over the last few years. Data shows the value of transactions via digital payment platforms, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Instant Payment System (NIP) and Point of Sales (PoS) terminals rose to N60.34 trillion in the first quarter of 2021. That was a 12.55% increase when compared to the N53.61 trillion achieved in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Taking into cognizance that strategic partnerships help to strengthen payment solutions and are pivotal to economic growth, Africa’s leading digital payment and e-commerce company, Interswitch Group, has collaborated with several companies across industries to provide the broadest set of financial solutions to financial institutions across Africa.

Since its inception, Interswitch has been providing the switching infrastructure that connects different banks in Nigeria to reconcile inter-bank payments and settlements. Its solutions are also used to deliver the technology used for Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and PoS.

Following the acquisition of a minority stake by Visa in Interswitch in 2019, Interswitch is today the most valuable African Fintech business with a valuation in excess of $1 billion hence its recognition as a Unicorn. The partnership with Visa, allowed Fintech Unicorn to expand its digital payment solutions across the continent.

Beyond partnerships with brands, Interswitch has also partnered with governments across the continent to integrate its digital payment solutions to expand its inter-bank settlement capacities. These partnerships have enhanced the digital payment ecosystem, helped shape the much-needed financial transformation as well as boosted the African economy.

According to Tomi Ogunlesi, Group Head, Corporate Marketing, “Over the years, we have been making major strides in delivering world-class financial solutions to customers across the world. Through strategic partnerships, Interswitch has also reached major milestones and deepened access to financial services.”

In furtherance of its commitment to help strengthen the financial services industry, Interswitch recently revamped its developer console to improve the experiences of partners, developers and merchants who seek to integrate with their solutions.

Essentially, this platform enables developers to try out their products before going to the market. The new Interswitch APIs enable developers to create innovative tools and products and provides self-service integration, giving developers the ability to access Interswitch’s product APIs, authentication parameters, sandbox, production keys, documentation and seamless project management.

Indeed, the fusion between Fintechs, banks and other service providers as strategic partners would not only enable them to deliver satisfactory services to their numerous customers, it will help grow the payment ecosystem and also contribute immensely to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

Technology

How Data Protection Policy In Nigeria Is Evolving To Secure Customers

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Data protection policy

By Otori Emmanuel

Technology advancement has increased the value of data, and many businesses are willing to invest in it. These data are obtained from customers directly or indirectly. When data is directly gathered, customers are often asked for their consent, and they typically provide it. In contrast, information that is gained inadvertently may be gathered through tracking or linkages to sources that already have the consumers’ data. Businesses use this strategy to improve their products and for research purposes.

To prevent unauthorized access, disclosure, or misuse of user’s personal information, data privacy and data protection policies are in effect. The right of people to decide how their personal information is gathered, utilized, and shared is referred to as data privacy. It involves making sure that people are informed about the information being collected on them, how it is being used, and with whom it is shared. Data protection policies, on the other hand, are protocols set up to safeguard private data against exploitation or unauthorized access. They require putting technical and organizational mechanisms in place to safeguard the privacy, usability, and authenticity of user data and also to prevent its loss, destruction, or alteration.

Data protection policies usually include instructions for the collection, processing, storage, and disposal of data. They also include safeguards for personal data security, such as encryption, access restrictions, and regular backups. Data privacy and protection regulations are crucial in the contemporary digital age, as personal data is captured, processed, and exchanged more frequently than at any time before.

User Data Protection in Nigeria

The Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was decreed in 2019 with the aim to ensure that individuals have control over their personal data and that it is processed fairly and legally. The NDPR mandates that businesses processing personal data get the individual’s consent before processing their information. Additionally, they must take the necessary security precautions to safeguard personal data against theft, loss, and unauthorized access.

Nigeria has established the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in addition to the NDPR to handle issues with data privacy and cybersecurity. The NITDA is in charge of enforcing the NDPR and ensuring that businesses abide by the data protection laws. Moreover, the NITDA has created frameworks and recommendations to offer firms advice on how to put in place reliable cybersecurity and data protection buffers. These rules address subjects like privacy notices, effect analyses of data protection, and breach reporting.

In accordance with the NDPR, businesses must acquire consent from people before collecting their personal data and have strong security measures in place to safeguard it. Businesses must appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) as part of the NDPR, who is responsible for ensuring that the law is upheld. Other laws in Nigeria, in addition to the NDPR, that deal with data protection are the Freedom of Information Act of 2011 and the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act of 2015. These laws strengthen the protection of personal information while also outlining the consequences of data protection laws infractions.

With a focus on safeguarding customer personal information and ensuring that businesses are held accountable for any violations by these laws, Nigeria’s data protection regulations are continuously improving.

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NCC Orders Implementation of Harmonised Short Codes

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harmonised short codes

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed mobile network operators (MNOs) to commence implementation of the approved harmonised short codes (HSC) for providing certain services to telecom consumers in the country.

The Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, Mr Reuben Muoka, in a statement on Monday, said the unified short codes were approved in line with its consumer-centric approach to telecom regulation.

According to him, the use of harmonised short codes is aimed at achieving uniformity in common short codes across networks.

This means that the code for checking airtime balance is the same across all mobile networks for the same function, irrespective of the network a consumer uses.

With the new codes, telecom consumers using the over 226 million active mobile lines in the country can now use the same codes to access services across the networks.

Already, the agency has set a deadline of May 17, 2023, for all mobile networks to fully migrate from hitherto diverse short codes to harmonised codes.

The period between now and May 17, 2023, is provided by the NCC to enable telecom consumers to familiarise themselves with the new codes for various services.

Under the new harmonised short codes regime, 13 common short codes have been approved by the NCC and include 300 for Call Centre/Help Desk on all mobile networks; 301 for voice Mail Deposit; 302 for Voice Mail Retrieval; 303 for Borrow Services; 305 for STOP Service; 310 for Check Balance, and 311 for Credit Recharge.

Also, the common code for Data Plan across networks is now 312. In line with the new direction, 321 is for Share Services, while 323 is for Data Plan Balance. The code 996 is now for Verification of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration/NIN-SIM Linkage.

The code 2442 is retained for Do-Not-Disturb (DND) unsolicited messaging complaint management, while the common code, 3232, is also retained for Porting Services, otherwise called Mobile Number Portability.

The old and new harmonised short codes will run concurrently up until May 17, 2023, when all networks are expected to have fully migrated to full implementation of the new codes.

harmonised short codes1

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Bitfinex Lists CryptoGPT to Revolutionise Approach to AI

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CryptoGPT

By Adedapo Adesanya

Cryptocurrency exchange, Bitfinex, has listed the first-of-its-kind CryptoGPT token ($GPT) in what has been touted as a revolutionised approach to artificial intelligence (AI).

The CryptoGPT, a cryptocurrency token built on an Ethereum platform, is the first-of-its-kind multi-value gas token and has the necessary demand as fuel for network transactions. It is topped up with value funnels from validator staking, cash flow from core products, and power of fee treasury which can be deployed for liquidity events like buybacks, burns, and/or expanded yield.

In a statement, the company said CryptoGPT token would revolutionise the world of AI by decentralising the data industry and giving billions of users across the world, including Africa, full control of their own AI data and freedom to monetize such data as they live their daily lives, creating a sustainable income stream.

CryptoGPT is a dedicated layer-2 blockchain built to create trillion-dollar data and power the AI revolution. The blockchain hosts apps with 2+ million active users, placing it as one of the biggest blockchains at launch. This innovation uniquely merges blockchain technology with AI and offers an ecosystem that treats data like an asset class.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing drastic changes in the technological fields around the world, where if implemented, it automates systems for more efficiency and performance.

From the comfort of a mobile phone and in multiple fields, AI is continuously providing high-performance and accurate system work with efficiency whilst playing an important role in helping humans work better without the help of humans. Since its inception, there is no doubt that the algorithm and success of AI is data-driven, and currently, many big tech companies and players like Meta, Google, and Amazon make billions and trillions of dollars by monetizing users’ AI data.

By creating an ecosystem that incentivizes users to earn crypto tokens and avoid constant inflation, CryptoGPT lets users capitalize on their data through its versatile $GPT token.

“No matter how much CryptoGPT ultimately decentralizes data, the $GPT token is a good investment because users can amass significant quantities of it by using the ecosystem’s apps and making referrals. This makes CryptoGPT the first sustainable ‘to earn’ ecosystem that pays users for contributing data that is then sold in the global data marketplace,” the company said.

CryptoGPT, unlike most participants in the AI boom, entered the marketplace with a compelling value proposition setting itself apart.

Currently, AI is used for different purposes and in different fields like virtual assistants or chats, healthcare agriculture, security and surveillance, logistics, shopping and fashion, agriculture, and farming. The CryptoGPT has an ecosystem of millions of daily app users with over 20+ apps in these fields as well as lifestyle, music, dating, travel, and gaming.

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