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Trove, Four Others to Jostle for 2021 Ecobank Fintech Challenge Prizes

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2021 Ecobank Fintech Challenge

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria’s Trove Finance has emerged as one of the five finalists of the 2021 Ecobank Fintech Challenge.

The company is one of the two Nigerian companies that will be jostling win the challenge, in its fourth edition, designed to help financial technology companies with Africa focused products join forces with the leading pan-African lender to provide Africans with groundbreaking financial services.

The finalists, who emerged from a competitive pool of nearly 900 fintechs that entered the 2021 Fintech Challenge will participate in a virtual finale to be held next month.

The 2021 finalists are led by Anadata Limited from Nigeria which developed Chota, an automated Address Verification System that uses Big Data Analysis to accelerate the process while improving accuracy.

Motito from Ghana promotes financial inclusion in Africa through its ‘buy now pay later’ platform which allows small businesses to offer interest-free credit at the point of sale.

OKO FINANCE from Mali offers new-generation index insurance to smallholder farmers, that are mobile-based and include access to affordable loans, weather alerts and farming tips.

Fourthline Limited from Kenya developed Pollen which is designed to be a USSD ecosystem for conducting cross-telecom payments and savings for the unbanked.

Trove Finance from Nigeria built software (APIs & Tools) that allows African individuals and financial institutions (banks, brokers and fund managers) access and trade the United States and global stocks

The finalists will pitch their products to a jury which will select the top three most promising products. The top three finalists will receive cash prizes of $15,000, $12,000 and $10,000 respectively.

All the finalists will be enrolled into Ecobank’s Fintech Fellowship where they will spend six months exploring partnership opportunities, including Multinational Product Roll Out: An opportunity for eligible Fintechs to pursue collaboration with Ecobank and possibly launch products in Ecobank’s 33 African markets; Service Provider Partnerships: A chance to partner with Ecobank on pan-African products and services roll out and undertake other joint venture; Mentoring and Networking Support: Access to networking and mentoring opportunities within the Ecobank Group and its vast network of global and African partners; and Digital Offering integration: An opportunity for Fintechs to potentially integrate with Ecobank’s existing digital offerings.

Speaking on this, Mr Tomisin Fashina, Group Executive, Operations & Technology, Ecobank Group, said: “The five finalists in this year’s edition have shown impressive products from a competitive group of nearly 900 applicants. I would like to personally congratulate them and express my excitement at the opportunity to work with them to bring their innovative ideas to fruition.”

Finalists competing for the top prize could be inducted into the coveted Ecobank Fintech Fellowship to pursue commercial partnerships with the Ecobank Group with access to 33 presence markets across Africa; opportunity to pursue integration with Ecobank and potentially launch products with the Group; mentoring and networking forums leveraging the Group’s partners; Priority Access to Ecobank’s Venture Capital partners for funding opportunities.

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Interswitch Champions ePayments Ecosystem Growth

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ePayments Ecosystem

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Interswitch has thrown its full weight behind the 2021 Annual Committee of e-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH) retreat as part of its commitment to champion the epayments ecosystem growth.

This is the fifth consecutive year the leading integrated payments and digital commerce company is sponsoring the programme, which is a platform through which the committee examines key innovations in the payment industry over the past year and discuss insights and trend for the coming year.

This year’s retreat is slated to hold on December 2 and 3, 2021, in Abeokuta, Ogun State and would be attended by various stakeholders in the sector.

The 2021 Annual CeBIH Retreat tagged Innovative Digital Banking will focus on issues around the growth of digital payments in Nigeria and how technological innovations such as digital currencies, blockchain, 5G network, contactless payments, among others, will dominate the payment industry in the coming years.

Interswitch as a key industry stakeholder will be instrumental in spearheading these discussions, especially with its recent efforts around blockchain technology and other solutions around contactless payments.

The digital payment company has been an ardent supporter of the committee and its objectives, underpinned by a shared objective of enabling further development of the digital payments ecosystem in Nigeria.

This sponsorship highlights its interest in fostering deeper collaboration between banks and fintechs within the industry ecosystem.

Speaking on the forthcoming retreat, Mr Akeem Lawal, Managing Director for Transaction Switching & Payment Processing at Interswitch reiterated the importance of Interswitch’s participation in industry events such as the CeBIH Retreat, where critical issues, trends and analysis around the payment ecosystem are discussed.

He described the retreat as a necessity for industry players to assess the current state of things and make calculable projections for the future, with the aim to improve and deepen Nigeria’s payment system.

“This retreat remains important for stakeholders in the payment industry and offers an opportunity for Interswitch to be introspective about the steps taken to improve the payment system in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole,” Mr Lawal said.

“We at Interswitch remain committed to supporting and participating at platforms that share our vision to drive greater financial inclusion and prosperity across Nigeria and the Africa continent.

“Platforms such as the CeBIH annual retreat provide Interswitch and other industry players the impetus to engage with key stakeholders and collaborators from the banking system with a view towards improving our offerings to our customers viz-a-viz market demands, global trends and insights from the operating environment,” he added.

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Cyber Threats in Nigeria Drop 7.5% in 2021—Kaspersky

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Cyber Threats

By Adedapo Adesanya

Cyber threats in Nigeria in 2021 depreciated by 7.5 per cent, according to the latest research by Kaspersky.

This dramatic change in the threat landscape is coming at a time regular and self-propagating malware is decreasing dramatically, as it is no longer effective and cannot fly under security radars.

Security researchers at Kaspersky noticed that Kenya recorded the highest decline with an unprecedented 28.6 per cent, while South Africa saw a 12 per cent decrease.

The reason for such a change was the introduction and popularisation of new cybercrime models in the region, with cybercrime tools becoming more targeted along with a long-running trend where malware creators rely not on the technical advantage of their technologies over security protection, but on the human factor.

The cybersecurity firm noted that this has stimulated the evolution of phishing schemes in 2021. In particular, the region saw a wave of ‘Anomalous’ spyware attacks.

The usual phishing spyware attack begins when attackers infect a victim by sending them an e-mail with a malicious attachment or a link to a compromised website and ends when the spyware is downloaded and activated on the victim’s device.

Having gathered all necessary data, the operator usually ends the operation by attempting to leave the infected system unnoticed. In anomalous attacks, however, the victim’s device becomes not only a source of data but also a tool for spyware distribution.

Having access to the victim’s email server, the malware operators use it to send phishing emails from a legitimate company’s email address. In this case, anomalous spyware attacks an organisation’s server for collecting stolen data from another organisation and sending further phishing emails.

Speaking on this, Maria Garnaeva, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky ICS CERT team, “The Anomalous spyware attacks have a huge potential for growth in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria in 2022, because unlike regular spyware the entry-level for attackers who wish to employ this tactic is significantly lower – since instead of paying for their own infrastructure, they abuse and employ the victims’ resources.

“We see that cheaper attack methods have always been on the rise in the region and cybercriminals quickly pick up on new tactics. Kaspersky, therefore, suggests that in the nearest future, these countries should be prepared for such attacks.”

She explained that the mass scale attacks are not disappearing, but rather transforming with the scheme usually following a style where a user searches for a free version of an extremely popular legitimate spyware and the cybercriminals offer them a fake installer using ‘black SEO technic’ – the abuse of the legitimate search engines, resulting in the offering of the fraudulent websites first.

As a result of software installer execution, a few dozen malware samples are downloaded and installed with the goal of turning the infected devices into a part of the Glupteba botnet.

The whole fake installers campaign and botnet have been extremely active in South Africa in 2021 and continue to evolve, yet it is scarcely researched.

“While the Glupteba botnet seems to be a threat for consumers, we are still researching it and keeping an eye on its behaviour, since some distributed malware resembles APT-related samples like Lazarus APT groups and were recently used in the largest DDoS attack in Russia. It is too early to say it with a high level of confidence, but these factors may suggest that we are now entering the era where APT actors start to use existing malware distribution platforms which makes attribution of such attacks harder and opens a new vector similar to supply chain attacks,” added Ms Garnaeva.

Recommendations from Kaspersky

In order to stay protected from such new cybercrime models and threats, Kaspersky recommends the following:

– Pay close attention to and don’t open any suspicious files or attachments received from unknown sources.

– Do not download and install applications from untrusted sources.

– Do not click on any links received from unknown sources and suspicious online advertisements.

– Create strong passwords and don’t forget to change them regularly.

– Always install updates. Some of them may contain critical security issues fixes.

– Ignore messages asking to disable security systems for office software or antivirus software.

– Use a robust security solution appropriate to your system type and devices, such as Kaspersky Internet Security.

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Zeepay, KudiGo, mPharma, Others Win at Ghana Fintech Awards 2021

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Ghana Fintech Awards 2021

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

It was a memorable day a few days ago when the key stakeholders in the financial technology (fintech) sector in Ghana gathered in Accra for the Ghana Fintech Awards 2021.

At the event, organised by Arkel Consult and Management Services Limited in partnership with Abjel Communications, Zeepay Ghana Limited went home as the Fintech Company of the year, while Andrew Takyi-Appiah was announced as fintech personality of the year in the male category, with the female category was Dede Afriyie Quarshie.

The Start-up Fintech of the year was Paybox, the Fintech & Bank partnership of the year was Ghana Interbank payment & settlement systems, while the Fintech & Non-Bank partnership was clinched by KudiGo Incorporated.

Business Post reports that the Agritech of the year was Kwidex, the Healthtech of the year was mPharma, the Edutech of the year was Blossom Academy, the Insurtech of the year was Insurerity Digital, while the IT/Tech of the year was Clydestone Ghana LTD.

The organisers also announced BPC Banking Technologies as the Leading Payments Technologies Service Provider 2021, while Panamax Incorporated was announced as the Leading Fintech Solutions Provider 2021.

Speaking at the maiden awards held at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra, the President of the African Fintech Network (AFN), Mr Segun Aina, disclosed that the “Ghana Fintech Awards has come at a time when the Bank of Ghana has observed that there are over 70 Fintech companies and startups operating in the country.”

“It is highly appropriate to say Arkel Consult and Abjel Communications have identified the economic contribution of the fintech startups and companies and decided to recognize their efforts by hosting this event. My hearty congratulations to these organisers for the foresight in putting up this event,” he added.

He assured that “AFN will look forward to inaugurating the Ghana Fintech Association and will be happy to support the sustenance of the Ghana Fintech Outlook Conference and Awards as an annual ecosystem event in partnership with the Ghana Fintech Association.”

Mr Martin Kwame Awagah, Director of Arkel Consult and Management Services Limited, expressed appreciation to Panamax Inc. Zeepay Ghana Limited, BPC Banking Technologies, Brassica Pay, EziPay, DreamOval, MTN Mobile Money Limited, Pavelon.com, People’s Pension Trust and Tarragon Edge who were the official sponsors of the ceremony.

He congratulated the shortlisted nominees and the winners for their efforts in promoting the growth of the fintech space in the country.

The Ghana Fintech Awards 2021 was created to recognise and acknowledge the achievements of individuals and companies who are contributing to the growth of Ghana’s financial and technology ecosystem.

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