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.
Nokia and African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to Speed up Digital Transformation and the Knowledge Economy in Africa
Collaboration to leverage the power of ICT including 5G for Industry 4.0 (IR 4.0), connecting the unconnected and transforming lives; Both organizations reiterate commitment to shape policy, develop talent, and promote inclusion and diversity in Africa.
Nokia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to drive digital transformation and the knowledge economy for socio-economic development across the continent. The two parties will leverage the power of telecommunications, including 5G networks, to connect the unconnected and identify innovative use cases, as well as business models. In addition, the MoU will lay ground for both organizations to better help governments shape telecom policy, develop talent and promote inclusion and diversity. This includes women, as well as the underprivileged in both rural and urban areas.
The MoU was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, by John OMO, Secretary General at ATU and Rajiv Aggarwal, Nokia Representative and Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia.
Announcing the partnership, Rajiv Aggarwal, Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia, said: “We remain keen on supporting Africa’s digital transformation journey and by collaborating with the ATU, we strengthen this commitment. We will leverage our global technology expertise and insights on policy matters to positively impact the universal socio-economic development in the continent.”
Co-signing the MoU with Mr. Rajiv, John OMO, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), said: “Our vision is to make Africa a full and active participant in the global information and knowledge society by enabling universal access to ICT systems and services across Africa. Collaboration with a global industry leader such as Nokia is therefore crucial in this regard and will help us accelerate towards a digital transformation and knowledge economy.”
The MoU framework is guided by six tenets designed to facilitate this acceleration. These are:
- Sharing of best practices on telecom technology trends and developments
- Identification of innovative industrial use cases toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- Recommendation on implementation of emerging technologies and business models
- Promotion of connecting the unconnected with broadband
- Development of emerging talent for digital innovation
- Promotion of inclusion and diversity
Nokia has a long history of collaboration with international organizations and bodies across the globe. Regionally in MEA, Nokia recently partnered with UN Women to promote inclusion and diversity in Middle East and Africa. Nokia is also working with UNICEF as part of a shared-value partnership in Kenya to connect schools with broadband and empower children in rural as well as disadvantaged urban areas. In November 2020, Nokia supported the Forge Academy in South-Africa with the launch of a fully inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to help students to become entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the global digital economy.
RobinHood, WeBull, Others Trading Apps Hit 14 Million Users Globally, Twice More than a Year Ago
Over the past years, trading apps have revolutionized the way people interact with the world’s financial markets and stock exchanges, making it simple and easy to trade online, whether at home or on the go. The number of people using these apps to make investments and monitor market trends has grown constantly each year, but in 2021 it surged to all-time highs.
According to data presented by BuyShares, RobinHood, WeBull, Fidelity Investments, E*Trade and eToro, as the world’s top five trading apps, doubled the number of users in the last year to nearly 14 million as of July.
RobinHood Hit 7.3M Monthly Active Users, Double the Second-Ranked WeBull
Stock trading has been moving to mobile for quite a while, and tech companies have been working on well-designed trading platforms to provide top-notch service to a new, tech-savvy set of users. That shift first started in the United States, where Robinhood has attracted tens of millions of users. On the other hand, the European market is still fragmented, with a handful of stock-trading apps slowly expanding to new markets.
According to AirNow data, RobinHood is by far the most popular trading app in the world. In July 2020, the app had around 4.3 million monthly active users. However, user numbers spiked in the first half of 2021, reaching a peak of over 9 million in May 2021. In July, around 7.3 million people worldwide used RobinHood to trade and make investments, 70% more than in the same month a year ago.
With 2.7 million monthly active users, or twice less than the leading RobinHood, WeBull ranked as the second most popular trading app globally. However, statistics show WeBull witnessed the biggest growth, with the number of users surging by 265% year-over-year.
Fidelity Investments ranked third with 1.8 million active users, 38% more than in July 2020. Morgan Stanley’s E*Trade and eToro followed, with 1.1 million and 1 million monthly active users, respectively.
RobinHood Reached 11.9M Downloads in 2021, Close to Other Top Four Apps Combined
Stock trading app developers are constantly innovating and adding new features to make portfolio management easier to do on the go. For example, many of the latest-gen trading platforms now feature AI-based tools to help users evaluate investment risks.
Besides having the largest user base, RobinHood also witnessed the biggest number of downloads this year. In the seven months of 2021, the trading app was downloaded 11.6 million times, close to the other top four apps combined, with almost one-third of all downloads happening in January.
WeBull was downloaded 5.6 million times in this period, 2.3 million more than the third-ranked eToro. Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade round the top five list, with 1.9 million and 1.2 million downloads, respectively.
Broadband Penetration in Need of a Leg-up – Coronation Merchant Bank
Digital technologies can promote growth in an economy partly due to their capacity to reduce costs and improve the quality of delivery. However, to achieve this, highspeed and reliable internet and broadband are required. The latest data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, show that internet subscriptions stood at 139.4 million in July, representing a y/y decline of -5%. Furthermore, we noticed a m/m decline of c.431,000 in subscriptions.
The decline in subscriptions can be partly attributed to the temporary suspension of SIM card sales to ensure the achievement of the National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise. Additionally, based on our channel checks, the stress associated with the NIN-SIM linkage has resulted in customers abandoning SIMs of devices that are not their primary source for communication or internet connectivity.
MTN Nigeria (MTNN) accounted for the largest share (42%) of total subscriptions though down -1.0% m/m in July ‘21. Airtel (-0.5%) and Glo (-0.9%) also recorded m/m decreases.
Over the past year, there has been a visible shift to fibre broadband internet plans which do not necessarily need SIM cards to function. We note that some residential estates are increasingly using this service given the heavy reliance on internet services at home due to the newly adopted work-from-home approach.
In November ‘19, President Buhari launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy. The strategy is hinged on eight critical pillars. One of the critical pillars is developing a solid infrastructure by deploying fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure to deepen broadband penetration and drive an inclusive and vibrant digital economy.
Similarly, in September ‘21, the FGN approved the national policy for the fifth-generation (5G) network to boost the country’s digital economy. The national broadband plan set a target for the country to attain 70% broadband penetration at a price of N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 1.3% of minimum wage).
The latest national accounts show that Information and Communications Technology sector grew by 5.6% y/y and contributed 17.9% to the total GDP in Q2 ’21. This is slightly higher than its contributions in Q2 ’20 (17.8%) and Q1 ’21 (14.9%). It also showed that telecommunications grew by 5.9% y/y in Q2 ‘21 compared with 7.7% in Q1 ‘21 and 18.1% in Q2 ‘20.
We note that investments into the sector have declined steadily. Capital importation into the telecommunications sector declined by 138.2% from USD944.1m in ’14 to USD417.5m in ’20. This can be linked to the infrastructure deficit in the telecommunications sector, the high cost of services and access devices, low digital literacy, poor perception of broadband value, among others.
Clear policy and regulatory guidance are fundamental to the optimal distribution and uptake of broadband services. The evolving work conditions, travel restrictions due to covid-19, the rise of e-commerce, and integration of technology in daily activities show that the rollout of broadband services has the potential to address various socio-economic challenges, grow the economy and create jobs.
Industry sources suggest that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can increase the GDP of an economy by 1.8 – 2.0%
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