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Visa Set to Unveil Mobile Payments Solution

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Visa Inc

Visa Incorporated has announced plan to launch a mobile payments solution, mVisa in Nigeria. The company said that it was in advanced discussions with leading Nigerian banks, and expects to roll the solution out with banking partners to Nigerian consumers before the end of 2016.

mVisa is an innovative mobile payments solution that allows consumers to pay for goods by scanning a QR code on a smart phone or entering a merchant number into their feature phones. Payment goes straight from the consumer’s Visa account into the merchant’s account and provides real-time notification to both parties.

mVisa is completely interoperable, meaning that the consumer and the merchant do not need to be customers of the same bank. It can also be used to enable consumers who use different mobile phones and services to interact. This brings a versatile and secure mobile money solution, powered by Visa, to consumers everywhere.

“We’re excited by the prospects of mVisa for Nigeria as a mobile payment solution which brings real benefits to drive digital transformation,” group country manager for Visa West Africa, Ade Ashaye was quoted to have said in a statement.

On his part, the Head of Retail Banking for Diamond Bank, Robert Giles said: “As a bank committed to bringing unrivalled customer experiences, we’re incredibly excited about mVisa and its potential for our customers in Nigeria.

“The service enables people to engage in secure, digital commerce, and access funds more easily in their bank accounts to make everyday purchases. mVisa increases the opportunity to include more Nigerians into the formal financial system, which will help the economy, and society grow.”

mVisa will be available for both smartphone users and consumers using basic feature phones, with the potential to provide a mobile payment service to nearly all 150 million1 active mobiles phones in Nigeria.

Consumers can also use mVisa agents for domestic remittances as well as to access their cash if there is no ATM network. These features accelerate financial inclusion, a core objective of both the Nigerian government and Visa. This is also in line with Visa’s 2015 commitment to the World Bank to bring the benefits of Visa and electronic payments to 500 million more people globally by the end of 2020.

Merchants are also expected to benefit from mVisa as recent data suggested that the informal economy, which refers to economic activity that is often cash-based and goes unreported, represents up to 60 per cent of Nigeria’s economy.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Norwegian Watchdog Slams Meta for Cumbersome Opt-Out Process in AI Training Plans

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a new legal challenge in Norway over its plans to utilize user images and posts to train artificial intelligence (AI) models.

The Norwegian Consumer Council has lodged a complaint, criticizing Meta’s cumbersome and deceptive opt-out process, which it argues breaches stringent EU data protection regulations.

The Council’s statement on Thursday highlighted that Meta’s method for allowing users to opt out of data collection for AI training is overly complicated and intentionally confusing.

“The process to opt-out breaches strict EU data protection rules and has been made deliberately cumbersome by using deceptive design patterns and vague wording,” the Council said.

This isn’t Meta’s first run-in with European regulators regarding data privacy. The tech giant has previously faced multiple complaints for allegedly failing to obtain proper consent from users before collecting their data to target advertisements.

Also, the European Union’s top court has warned Meta about safeguarding public information on users’ sexual orientation from being used for personalized advertising.

“We are urging the Data Protection Authority to assess the legality of Meta’s practices and to ensure that the company is operating in compliance with the law,” stated Inger Lise Blyverket, head of the Norwegian Consumer Council.

The complaint was prepared by the European Center for Digital Rights and will be submitted to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, as well as other European data protection authorities.

Due to Meta’s EU base in Dublin, the Irish Data Protection Commission will serve as the lead authority in this matter.

The outcome of this complaint could have significant implications for how Meta, and other tech companies, handle user data within the EU.

Meta’s use of user data for training AI has raised significant privacy concerns. Critics argue that without clear and straightforward consent mechanisms, users are often unaware of how their data is being used.

This latest complaint underscores the ongoing tension between big tech companies and European regulators striving to enforce robust privacy standards.

The Norwegian Consumer Council’s action reflects a growing impatience with tech giants’ data practices, emphasizing the need for transparency and user control.

As AI technologies continue to advance, ensuring ethical and lawful data usage remains a critical challenge for both companies and regulators.

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Telecommunications

Ethio Telecom Sale to Foreign Bidders Halted; Local Investors to Get Priority

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Ethiopia has decided to halt the sale of its state-owned telecommunications operator, Ethio Telecom, to foreign investors.

Instead, the government will prioritize domestic retail investors before listing the company on the nation’s upcoming securities exchange.

Originally, the Ethiopian government planned to sell 45% of Ethio Telecom to foreign investors. This approach was abandoned in November after Orange SA, a major contender, withdrew from the bidding process.

Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. was also rumored to have considered a bid but did not proceed.

“There were bidders, but each one of them has left the process at one point,” said Abdurehman Eid, CEO of Ethiopian Investment Holdings, which is overseeing the sale along with the finance ministry. “At the end, we felt it’s probably better to halt the process.”

Eid explained that foreign interest did not meet Ethiopia’s expectations. “The priority now is to expedite the sale of 10% to retail investors, who are showing a huge appetite,” he noted during an interview at a sovereign wealth fund conference in Mauritius.

The focus on foreign investors will resume after Ethio Telecom is listed on the Ethiopian Securities Exchange (ESX), set to commence operations in October.

Ethio Telecom, the largest telecommunications operator in Africa’s second most-populous country, had a monopoly for decades. By January, the company boasted 74.6 million subscribers and recorded a profit of 11 billion birr ($191.6 million) for the first half of the fiscal year.

The shift in strategy underscores Ethiopia’s intention to leverage domestic investment capacity. The decision to prioritize local investors aligns with broader economic goals, aiming to stimulate local participation in major economic sectors.

This move is part of a larger plan to list five other state-owned companies on the ESX. According to Eid, proceeds from these divestitures will be utilized to reduce public debt.

Over the years, enterprises controlled by the government have accumulated substantial debt, leading to financial struggles.

The Liability Asset Management Corp., established three years ago, currently manages close to 780 billion birr in debt.

By redirecting the sale of Ethio Telecom shares to local investors, Ethiopia is fostering a more inclusive investment environment and setting a precedent for future listings.

The new strategy is expected to enhance domestic capital markets and provide more opportunities for Ethiopian citizens to invest in the country’s economic future.

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E-commerce

Jumia Shares Triple in 2024 Amid Strong Q1 Performance

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Shares of African e-commerce giant Jumia (JMIA) surged to $8.67 on Monday, a significant milestone in the company’s remarkable recovery this year.

This price represents the highest the stock traded in 2024, starting at a modest $3.36. The gain highlights investor confidence following the company’s strong Q1 2024 results.

Despite not yet achieving a unicorn valuation, Jumia’s market capitalization has climbed to an impressive $872 million.

This turnaround is primarily attributed to the company’s strategic shift under the leadership of CEO Francis Dufay, who took over in 2023.

Dufay has focused on cost-cutting measures and driving revenue growth, a departure from Jumia’s previous struggles with profitability.

In Q1 2024, Jumia reported a 70% reduction in losses, thanks to significant cuts in advertising and sales expenses. Meanwhile, the company saw an 18.5% increase in revenue.

These results are particularly noteworthy given the economic challenges in some of Jumia’s major markets, including high inflation and currency devaluation.

“The impressive Q1 results have renewed investor confidence,” said an industry analyst. “Jumia’s ability to cut costs while growing revenue in such a challenging environment is a testament to their strategic realignment.”

Dufay’s leadership has been pivotal in this transformation. He has made bold moves, including shutting down the loss-making Jumia Food vertical and relocating UAE-based executives to Jumia’s key markets.

Also, the launch of a new 30,000 square meter integrated warehouse in Lagos has enhanced Jumia’s logistics capabilities, reducing delivery times and improving customer satisfaction.

“The shift in business model and operational focus is showing positive results,” commented Dufay. “We are committed to sustaining this growth trajectory and building a robust, profitable business.”

Jumia’s stock performance has drawn positive reactions from investors, particularly given the broader economic challenges in Africa.

The company’s turnaround is seen as a promising sign, especially as competitors like Amazon begin to make inroads into the African market with their launch in South Africa.

Jumia’s initial public offering in 2019, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at $14.50 per share, generated significant excitement.

However, the subsequent years were marked by fluctuating share prices and ongoing struggles with profitability. The recent surge in share price reflects a renewed optimism about Jumia’s future under Dufay’s leadership.

As Jumia continues to navigate the complexities of the African e-commerce landscape, it remains focused on achieving sustainable growth and profitability. The recent stock surge is a clear indication that investors believe in the company’s potential to thrive in a competitive market.

“Jumia’s journey has been challenging, but our commitment to innovation and operational excellence is unwavering,” Dufay stated. “We are excited about the opportunities ahead and remain focused on delivering value to our shareholders and customers.”

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