It is indeed quite disheartening that a country as huge as Nigeria is still largely shut out from the part of international commerce that will allow local online entrepreneurs and start-ups earn foreign exchange through the sale of their goods and services.
Let’s not deceive ourselves; the fact that Nigerians can now shop on amazon or alibaba using their debit cards does not in any way mean that we are participating in the game of e-Commerce internationally. What is happening, in my opinion, is that we are being fleeced by many of the international establishments.
So from Facebook to PayPal to Netflix to Uber; these international organisations are here to do business and nothing but business and with the way these types of transactions are structured, it is almost impossible for our largely analogue nation to get a dime as tax.
Can you imagine how much foreign exchange we are losing as a nation because of certain practices that government has allowed to thrive? Nigerians, for example, can make payment with a PayPal account that is tied to their debit cards and the same Nigerians are not allowed to receive money using PayPal accounts.
This is one of the reasons why I am sort of happy about the mess our currency is in at the moment. It might get our government and policy makers to think outside the box and possibly take the possibility of earning foreign currency online more seriously.
It is a welcome development that a company like PayPal has opened up to Nigerians but after two years or so, Nigerians can’t still receive money on PayPal; how sad can that be? Government should as a matter of urgency start a process of lobbying these companies because the moment they allow honest Nigerians to receive money, we would immediately see the difference.
Let me re-echo what has now become a talking drum: “The fastest way to create jobs in our dear country is through Internet based jobs otherwise called digital jobs.”
At this point, it is great to commend growing Nigerian companies like Voguepay for the strides they are making which is geared towards making it possible for people to accept payments for products and services. I decided to mention them because I have used the service for a while and it is pretty easy for anyone to start receiving money through them.
This is quite commendable because after all is said and done, e-Commerce starts with the ability to make and receive payments online. I believe young companies like these need to be encouraged to grow because the more their user base increases the better they can become an effective replacement to the likes of PayPal. What do you think makes PayPal the defacto king of online payment? Basically, good infrastructure and huge user base that ensures billions are pushed across the platform daily.
Nigerians please let’s use the opportunity of our bad economic period to support our own.
However, I must state that there are a number of issues that must be dealt with by the Nigerian e-payment companies which include that fact fraud must be tackled and online security improved. This should go with massive enlightenment campaign that is necessary to build confidence and this is where partnership with the media is key.
Also, infrastructure that aids the growth of online payment has to be improved. Another critical challenge that needs to be tackled is the multiple steps that the customer goes through during payment. Each time I am using any local payment provider, I have to enter my card details every single time but PayPal as an example does not request for it a second time which cuts down the steps one has to go through.
Finally, I believe players in the financial tech ecosystem have to find a way to improve the process of reconciliation. The way things are at the moment, the banks are currently feeding fat in this whole arrangement to the detriment of start-ups. As a start-up, when a client pays you using any debit card in Nigeria; you don’t get it instantly. You must wait for x number of days before the reconciliation is done.
Some closing questions we’d need to ponder on are as follows: is it possible to solve the mystery of not having to re-enter your card details every time you want to make a payment? Can we change the Nigerian narrative that is closely linked with fraud? How can we improve service delivery? What happens if someone pays for a product and discovers it is defective? Will they get a refund? Is it enforceable?
The above questions are pointers to the fact that we need to strengthen institutions in our dear nation because this is what will build the confidence needed to develop Nigeria’s digital economy.
Leatherback Set for International Growth as EFCC Drops all Fraud and Misconduct Allegations
Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dropped all allegations of fraud and misconduct against Leatherback, a leading financial services technology company, and the company’s CEO, Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade.
In November 2023, EFCC announced that it had been made aware of the possibility of fraudulent activities on the Leatherback platform, leading to an investigation into the company’s operations to establish the facts. Cooperating fully with EFCC and working transparently with the organisation’s officials to provide a forensic view of its operations, Leatherback was able to unequivocally prove its innocence, leading the EFCC to drop all allegations and take down all previous communications on its website and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) around the matter.
Leatherback supported the EFCC investigation by making over 5,000 printed documents available to officials to enable as much clarity as possible. Leatherback also filed Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the UK and Nigeria.
According to Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade, CEO of Leatherback, “I am relieved to see the end of this arduous episode, but I am even more delighted to see that myself and Leatherback, as an organisation, have been completely cleared of all wrongdoing. With this episode firmly behind us, we are poised to accelerate our mission to provide a single access point that empowers individuals and businesses to be truly global, delivering best-in-class financial, payment, and commerce solutions that remove barriers to global growth and mobility for all citizens of the world.”
Headquartered in London, Leatherback is regulated in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, enabling the platform to serve customers across a wide range of markets effectively. Tens of thousands of individuals and businesses already use the platform to support business and lifestyle opportunities every day. Leatherback is also FCA Authorised, PCI DSS Compliant, and ISO Certified.
Leatherback offers financial services to businesses and individuals in multiple countries with no restrictions. Users can access up to 15 currencies from 21 countries, including NGN, GBP, INR, EUR, USD, and many other currencies. Users can also send and collect money locally and internationally, with invoicing, analytics, and permissions features available for businesses.
For more information, please visit: http://www.leatherback.co
Carbon Acquires Vella Finance to Enhance SME Offerings
Digital financial services provider Carbon has completed the acquisition of Vella Finance, a Nigerian fintech company specializing in serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The acquisition, announced through an official statement on Wednesday, signifies Carbon’s strategic move to bolster its SME offerings.
Although the financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, Carbon’s acquisition of Vella Finance, founded two years ago under its parent company, One Credit Limited, underscores its commitment to expanding its footprint in the fintech space.
Vella Finance’s expertise in AI-powered SME banking solutions particularly caught the attention of Carbon.
Through this acquisition, Carbon aims to leverage Vella Finance’s innovative technology to provide actionable insights from financial transactions to its SME customers.
Tolu Adedayo, co-founder and COO of Vella Finance, expressed enthusiasm about the integration, noting that several team members from Vella Finance have joined Carbon following the acquisition.
Adedayo further revealed that Vella Finance’s 8,000 SME customers would be transitioned to Carbon Business in the near future.
Chijioke Dozie, co-founder of Carbon, emphasized the alignment of values and vision between Carbon and Vella Finance, highlighting the potential for synergies and growth in the SME banking segment.
The acquisition marks a significant milestone for both companies as they aim to revolutionize financial services for SMEs in Nigeria.
Alibaba Eyes Gulf Expansion, Seeks Partnerships in Saudi and UAE Markets
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the prominent Chinese e-commerce giant, is actively pursuing expansion into the Gulf region, notably in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Alibaba’s president, Michael Evans, revealed the company’s strategy during a panel discussion at Dubai’s World Government Summit, highlighting a commitment to local partnerships as a key aspect of their approach.
Evans underscored Alibaba’s recent endeavors in Saudi Arabia, indicating a concerted effort to deepen its presence in the region’s burgeoning e-commerce landscape.
The move signifies Alibaba’s strategic pivot towards collaborative ventures following a period of strategic realignment prompted by government scrutiny and leadership changes.
The Gulf’s growing ties with China, driven by mutual economic interests and investment diversification initiatives, present an opportune moment for Alibaba’s expansion efforts.
However, geopolitical complexities, including heightened US scrutiny of China-linked entities, add a layer of challenge to Alibaba’s Gulf aspirations.
As Alibaba seeks to reclaim its leadership position in the global tech industry, the pursuit of partnerships in Saudi Arabia and the UAE underscores the company’s adaptive approach to international expansion.
The success of these ventures could potentially reshape the Gulf’s e-commerce landscape and deepen economic ties between the region and China.
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