By Dipo Olowookere
A Nigerian financial technology platform, TeamApt, has secured a switching licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The new licence is expected to support the financial inclusion drive of the apex bank.
Chief Executive Officer of TeamApt Mr Tosin Eniolorunda, described the switching permit as the highest to licence any fintech company can get from the central bank.
According to him, this will help the company provide better services on the AptPay platfirm, one of company’s products.
“It (switching licence) is the highest licence awarded to any fintech by the CBN because the license allows you to put all the banks together and be able to debit their banking position with the central bank,” Mr Eniolorunda said.
He noted that, “What this translates to is that with AptPay, TeamApt can actually move money across the banks without putting our money down. This license puts TeamApt on the same level as other Tier-1 financial technology companies.”
“If through a payment gateway, a buyer pays a merchant for a product and the payment gateway provider needs to pay the merchant instantly, without the licence, the provider will have to pay with its own money.
“But with the licence, the provider is merely moving the bank funds around without tying down its money,” the tech entrepreneur stated.
Also commenting on the switching licence, the team lead for AptPay, Mr Dumebi Duru, disclosed that, “AptPay, a robust payment infrastructure powering payment processing, interbank transfers, and direct debits means that the switching license is the last piece to the matrix.”
TeamApt makes easier, faster and cheaper the way banks, people and businesses in Africa perform and process financial transactions through deployment and running of digital solutions and payments infrastructure.
Ericsson Launches Automation Hub in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) giant, Ericsson, has announced plans to create an Automation Hub in Nigeria to support operators for improved consumer experience.
The Ericsson Automation Hub is an open innovation platform, inspired by lean startup methodology in which the Ericsson team works in close dialogue with customers, users and partners to showcase and reach the high potential that network automation allows in configuration, provisioning, assurance and orchestration of network services.
This will enable service providers to gain the ability in their environments to govern, manage and orchestrate hybrid networks holistically and in real-time and as a result, offer an enhanced consumer experience.
The company noted that fields to be covered include but not limited to 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) use cases, network slicing and orchestration, hologram calls, complex standalone, business support system (BSS) and operations support system (OSS), cloud and core product cases, automated acceptance tests demonstration and enhancements as well as complex charging scenarios for 5G and 4G networks.
The Vice President and Head of Digital Services at Ericsson Middle East and Africa at Ericsson, Mr Lucky La Riccia, said, “As industry 4.0 accelerates in Africa, automation in operations is proven to boost customer experiences.”
“Ericsson continues to support the telecom industry players in setting #AfricaInMotion, and with the Ericsson Automation Hub in Nigeria, we will focus on driving business outcomes for our partners in Africa as they aim to leverage on digital transformation to turn complexities to opportunities while offering a greater experience and value to consumers,” he added.
Ericsson enables communications service providers to capture the full value of connectivity.
The company’s portfolio spans networks, digital services, managed services, and emerging business and is designed to help its customers go digital, increase efficiency and find new revenue streams.
Ericsson’s investments in innovation have delivered the benefits of telephony and mobile broadband to billions of people around the world. The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on Nasdaq New York.
Nigeria Lifts Suspension on New SIM Card Registration
By Adedapo Adesanya
The suspension earlier place on the activation/registration of new SIM card in the country has been lifted by the Nigerian government.
The lifting of the suspension was announced by the federal government on Thursday. However, it stressed that the registration must be in compliance with guidelines from Monday, April 19, 2021.
The central government suspended the activation of new SIM cards by GSM network providers in December 2020 as it embarked on an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, which announced the lifting of the embargo in a statement signed by Mr Femi Ademiluyi, a technical aide to the Minister, Mr Isa Pantami, said the latest development was in line with the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, Section 23(a), which specifies the role of the Minister to include the formulation, determination and monitoring of the general policy for the communications sector.
On the Subscriber Registration Database, Mr Pantami, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, coordinated and led the development of a Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration in collaboration with all other stakeholders.
An earlier policy was approved on February 4, 2020, while the Revised Policy was developed in early March 2021.
In the statement, Mr Adeluyi noted that final amendments to the revised policy based on the directives of Mr President to make the use of NIN mandatory for all SIM registration were completed On Tuesday, April 14, 2021.
Prior to that, the key aspects of the draft Policy were presented to the stakeholders at the 4th Review Meeting of the Ministerial Task Force (MTF) on the NIN-SIM registration which held on Friday, February 26, 2021.
Key stakeholders and members of the MTF who joined the Honourable Minister at the meeting included the EVC/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), DG/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), DG/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON). Others included the NCC Executive Commissioners for Technical Services and Stakeholder Management, MD/CEOs of MTN, Airtel, EMTS (9Mobile), NTEL, Spectranet and SMILE, as well as the COO of Glo.
The statement also noted that Mr Pantami also presented the revised policy to Mr Buhari on Friday, March 26 2021.
“Mr President made further improvements and endorsed it for implementation. Mr President also commended the Honourable Minister for his commitment in carrying out the responsibility of developing the digital economy sector, including championing the NIN-SIM registration process.
“The policy includes guidelines on new sIM acquisition and activation, SIM replacement, new SIM activation for corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), amongst others. The possession of a national identity number will be a prerequisite for each of these categories.
“For the corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a Telecoms Master (at the minimum of an executive management level) to provide the operational primary NIN representation. The telecoms master will also be responsible for ensuring that the users provide their NINs to serve as a secondary NIN”, the statement read.
“For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point to point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred.
“In the event that a data-only service is particular to individual use (eg home car tracking, WiFi, MiFi services, etc), the standard NIN registration process will be followed. A telecoms master will also be required for Corporates requiring IoT/M2M activations. The full details of the requirements for each class of service will be made available in due course.
“Significant progress has been made in the NIN registration process across the country. Nonetheless, the federal government is committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN.
“The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards. The revised policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture.
“The guidelines in the policy have been painstakingly developed and while they are thorough, it should be noted that they have been developed that way in National interest since the SIM is essentially a national resource. Citizens and legal residents are encouraged to bear with the government as the process has been developed in the best interest of the country”, he said.
“The Minister has also directed NCC and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the policy are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.
“Dr Pantami wishes to thank Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the federal government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise”.
“He reiterated government’s commitment to continue taking decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration”, the statement concluded.
Osinbajo to Flag-Off Digital Empowerment Scheme in Ogun
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Vice President of Nigeria, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, will on Thursday join the Ogun State Governor, Mr Dapo Abiodun, to flag off a digital empowerment scheme in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Tagged Ogun State Digital Economic Empowerment Project, it is a plan of the state government, being organized by the Bureau of Information Technology in conjunction with 21st Century Technologies.
In a press release signed by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Mr Kunle Somore, the Director of Information Technology in the Bureau, Mrs Olatundun Adekunte, was quoted as saying that the event will hold at the Ogun Tech-Hub on Kobape Road, Abeokuta at 11 a.m.
According to the release, the project is aimed at providing internet access to indigenes and residents of the state and its environs in order to enhance the lives and businesses of the people.
The release further stated that other special guests such as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele; Ministers, Stakeholders, Royal Fathers will grace the occasion.
It added that the project would enable the people to meet up with the best global practices in the present digital era.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has reiterated its effort to drive technological growth across the country.
Twitter Snubs Nigeria, Opens First African Office in Ghana
By Adedapo Adesanya
Twitter has snubbed Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, and has picked its West African neighbours, Ghana, as the preferred location for its first African office.
This was disclosed in a statement on Monday by the social media giant. The opening of its office in Ghana is part of efforts to make inroads in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets.
In the statement, the company noted, “We must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent.”
The move has come as a surprise to many as they had pegged South Africa or Nigeria as the first choice but according to Twitter, the decision to kick off its African expansion with Ghana stems from the country’s dealings with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and its openness towards the internet.
“As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.
“Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa,” the statement read.
Twitter’s move was welcomed in Ghana by the country’s president, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo, who tweeted, “This is the start of a beautiful partnership between Twitter and Ghana,” adding that its presence was crucial for the development of Ghana’s tech sector.
Twitter trails its rival, Facebook Incorporated, which opened its first African office in Johannesburg in 2015 and plans to open a second in Lagos this year. The firm struck a deal with African telecom majors in 2020 to build one of the world’s largest subsea cable networks.
Africa is under-tapped terrain for technology firms, with internet use per population at around 39 per cent against a world average of 59 per cent according to web analytics firm StatCounter, but that number grows every year thanks to expanding mobile broadband networks and affordable phones.
StatCounter figures show that around 11.8 per cent have Twitter.
The news comes almost eighteen months after Twitter Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jack Dorsey with his Twitter team visited the continent for the first time in November 2019.
During his tour on the continent, he visited Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa, where he met with different industry leaders and tech stakeholders on matters concerning Twitter and bitcoin.
There are expectations that social media will grow on the continent in the next couple of years.
NITDA Begins Challenge to Drive Vibrant Digital Economy
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), as part of the United Nations’ World Creativity and Innovation Day 2021, has opened the application for an Innovation Challenge to support Nigeria’s plans to become a 21st-century digital economy.
Themed Inspiring Creativity and Innovation in the Nigerian Digital Economy, the competition hopes to harness innovative and impactful solutions for the development of a vibrant digital economy.
The World Creativity and Innovation Day is a global United Nations day celebrated to raise awareness around the importance of creativity and innovation in problem-solving with respect to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as the “global goals”.
The agency is, therefore, calling on all Nigerians with innovative and impactful working solutions to make entries for the Innovation Challenge.
Solutions will be evaluated based on job and wealth creation potential, originality, marketability, scalability and inclusiveness. Successful entries will have an opportunity to present their solutions to the tech industry stakeholders.
The event is scheduled as follows:
Submission of entries via http://bit.ly/NITDA21WCID
The portal will be opened from April 12, 2021, till April 17, 2021.
Entries will be evaluated and assessed by April 19, 2021, and successful ones will be required to do a 5-minute live pitch on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was created in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and coordinate general IT development in the country.
The Act (National Information Technology Development Act (2007) mandate is to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.
The role of NITDA is to develop, regulate and advise on Information technology in the country through regulatory standards, guidelines, and policies. Additionally, NITDA is the clearinghouse for all IT projects and infrastructural development in the country.
It is the prime agency for e-government implementation, Internet governance and general IT development in Nigeria. NITDA is poised to actualize its mammoth mandate through strategic and inclusive stakeholder management, local and international partnership and efficient utilization of resources in the interest of Nigeria.
Sparkle Launches Service for Small Businesses
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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