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Uber, Visa to Offer Digital Payment to Africans

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  • Uber, Visa to Offer Digital Payment Platform to Africans

Uber and Visa have announced a multi-year strategic agreement that aims to grow digital commerce across Africa. The partnership leverages both technology platforms to encourage the use of electronic payments among consumers across the continent.

Under the agreement, Visa will work with its financial institution partners to set up their debit and credit portfolios for eCommerce. This will enable faster adoption of digital payments in the region, new revenue streams for banks and merchants, and create the platform for market leading digital companies like Uber to offer great app-based commercial experiences to more customers.

In parallel, Uber and Visa will offer new and existing riders across Nigeria special deals when paying with their Visa card. Uber constantly works towards ensuring a seamless and convenient app experience, and offering seamless and frictionless payment options to riders (1) is a big part of this. The Uber/Visa partnership will ensure riders have more flexibility to pay in the way they are most comfortable, while enjoying free rides when they use their Visa card.

General Manager for Uber sub-Saharan Africa, Alon Lits, said: “Ensuring riders have access to simple and convenient payment options is crucial, which is why our partnership with Visa, makes a whole lot of sense. It’s a win-win for both riders, who have flexible payment options and will accumulate free rides, but also for driver-partners as this will increase demand which results in more trips.”

Group Country Manager, sub-Saharan Africa for Visa, Andrew Torre, said; “Visa’s purpose is to be the best way to pay and be paid, for everyone, everywhere. Everything we do as an organisation aims to live up to this promise. Visa is always looking to align with like-minded brands, who will help bring our cashless vision to life, and ensure that consumers have multiple payment options to best suit their everyday lives.”

During the promotion period, new riders will get discounts off their first two rides. Existing riders who choose to pay with Visa will get a complimentary trip every sixth ride. All riders need to do is link their Visa card in the payment option of their Uber app before they initiate their trip.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Top Five Tech Growth Sectors Forecast to Quadruple Over Next Few Years

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Five key tech sectors will enjoy a combined growth of more than 400% over the next five years, according to market reports.

These innovation pacesetters – nanotechnology, AI, Digital Twins, genomics and other biotech life sciences – attracted a combined $892.63 billion of investment in 2020, set to rocket to $2.44 trillion by 2025.

Paul Stannard, Chairman of the Vector Innovation Fund (VIF) – an international alternative investment vehicle for advancing enabling technologies globally – said:

“These top five tech growth sectors are the ones currently lighting up investment opportunities, and we have specifically aligned our investment pipeline to them. They hold the key to solving major global challenges relating to sustainability, healthcare, energy, food resources and equal and fair distribution of innovation worldwide.

“Most tech sectors are growing, but these game-changers attracting that $2+ trillion investment won’t be companies enhancing things that already exist, like simply making your TV screen sharper.

“We are backing tech companies that transform how we deal with healthcare and future pandemics, sustainable clean energy, food production and combine these opportunities with AI and machine learning.

“Our fund’s first key target is health tech, which has enjoyed record levels of investment in the wake of COVID, so we would focus on potential nanomedicine breakthroughs such as reversing degenerative diseases and cancers or creating a multi-vaccine to protect us from a range of diseases.

“And while funds like ours can supply management expertise, our target companies are also those showing the skill to commercialise and monetise their offering to a willing market.

“What we have seen with the pandemic as well as Climate Change is a global realisation that we must also accelerate investment in enabling technologies supporting environmental, social & corporate governance (ESG) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) principles where impact can deliver better outcomes for everyone.”

The Top Five tech growth sectors highlighted by market reports are:

  1. Artificial Intelligence has the most far-reaching potential, and the market is forecast to grow 16-fold from $62.35 billion in 2020 to $997.77 billion by 2028 at a 40.2% CAGR,  being the catalyst for accelerating almost all tech sectors and has already shown how it can enhance food science, lower retail and banking costs, and develop medical advances such as remote patient monitoring and more intelligent clinical diagnosis.

AI is transforming future healthcare, food, energy, transport, construction, aviation, and many other sectors. Combining AI with nanotechnologies, for instance, allows platform technologies to re-invent the industries over this decade.

According to data gathered by StockApps.com, in the last quarter of 2020, there was a massive surge in investment in AI technology companies totalling $73.4 billion, which was a $15 billion increase on the start of 2020. In the first half of 2021, we have seen 4,080 investment deals in AI technology companies, according to the investment monitoring platform Pitchbook. The average investment deal flow value has increased nearly three-fold in 2020.

  1. Nanotechnology is set to grow its market from $54.2 billion in 2020 to $126.8 billion by 2027, which has enabled significant advances in medicine, electronics, environmental solutions, and materials, with the potential to improve drug delivery procedure and storage, and renewable energy. For example, COVID-19 accelerated both vaccine and virus testing and also drove specific developments such as nanotech material masks that filter out 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and particulates.

According to the investment monitoring platform, Pitchbook, in 2020, $5.56 billion was invested in nanotechnology companies. In the first half of 2021, there has already been $7.72 billion of investment in nanotechnology companies, from 775 deals, with the average deal size value increasing three-fold in just the last six months.

Paul Sheedy, a co-founder of the World Nano Foundation (WNF), said: “The COVID pandemic is fuelling an investment trend behind the nanoscale tech that is already being billed as the ‘COVID Decade’ and driven by the fear of human and economic devastation from another pandemic.

“And that risk is high: there are only ten clinically approved solutions to over 220 viruses known to affect humans, and we can expect at least two new viruses to spill from their natural hosts into humans annually, but nanotech and biotech can help counter this threat.”

  1. Biotechnology is the biggest and most mature market here, forecast to grow from $752.88 billion in 2020 to $2.44 trillion by 2028 at a 15.83% CAGR through significant effects on agriculture, improving the nutritional value and preservation of foods, minimising waste, and healthcare advances – the last being highlighted by the record-breaking speed of the Pfizer COVID vaccine development last year.

According to Nature magazine, global biotech funding in 2020 had its best year ever: 73 life science firms alone raised a collective $22 billion. Private fund-raising also mushroomed by 37% on the previous year – already a stellar year. This is being further fuelled with the COVID-19 mitigation market and the advent of a surge of investment in pandemic protection and preparedness using multi vaccines, autoimmune treatments and early intervention testing. Pitchbook has recorded 3,800 deals in biotechnology companies in the first half of 2021, totalling $34.48 billion in investment in these companies. Again, the average investment level is nearly three times what it was the previous year, and post valuations of invested biotech companies have doubled from 2020.

  1. Digital Twins are a new up and coming high growth tech sector, forecast to grow 15-fold from $3.1 billion in 2020 to $48.2 billion by 2026 at a 58% CAGR, with the technology already widely used in the construction, energy, healthcare, automotive, and aerospace sectors, and new fields opening up all the time.

According to Pitchbook, last year, there was $103.8 million of capital invested from just 53 investors into the Digital Twins technology start-ups. One company, Cityzenith, has added over 5000 new investors in the last 18 months, raising $10 million to date.

Cityzenith uses its Digital Twin SmartWorldProOS™ software platform to enable architects, planners, and energy providers to track, manage, and reduce emissions and energy waste from individual buildings, infrastructure, and even whole cities and has just reported major contract wins and seen its share price rocket 161% in early 2021. The company is partway through a $15 million Regulation A+ investment raise to scale up its international commercial opportunities.

The Digital Twin sector is an interesting space with tremendous growth opportunities for nimble, fast-moving start-ups who have the opportunity to compete with major conglomerates in this dynamic field such as Microsoft, Siemens, Phillips and Bentley.

  1. Genomics is a market set to grow from $20.1 billion in 2020 to $62.9 billion by 2028 through its key role in healthcare innovation and tailoring care to an individual patient while providing more data on diseases and human genetics. The World Health Organisation reports that gene sequencing was critical to the rapid development of COVID-19 tests and other tools used to manage the virus outbreak.

According to Pitchbook, investment capital in genomics companies has more than doubled in value per deal in 2021 over the previous year. So far in 2021, post-investment valuations have also more than doubled against the whole of 2020.

Paul Stannard added: “The accelerated innovation since the COVID-19 pandemic is astonishing – some experts say we witnessed ten years’ growth in the last 18 months of the outbreak – giving us a glimpse of even greater possibilities, especially when some of these pacesetters, such as nanotech, genomics and Digital Twins are able to advance, accelerate and complement each other.

“If it is backed by astute and enlightened investment, our future is looking bright!”

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Telecommunications

Nokia Launches Next-generation AirScale 5G Portfolio Powered by ReefShark Technology

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Nokia today announced the global launch of its latest range of industry-leading AirScale 5G products covering baseband, remote radio heads, and massive MIMO active antennas with digital beamforming. The innovative solutions are powered by the latest generation of Nokia’s ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) chipsets and deliver the highest capacity and network performance while enabling efficient deployments and operation. The rollout of the new products is already underway.

Nokia introduces its new generation of ReefShark-powered AirScale massive MIMO antennas with both 32TRX and 64TRX products, as well as 8T8R remote radio head solutions. The 32TRX is the industry’s lightest, at 17kg, simplifying and speeding up site deployments. Notably, this low weight is achieved at the same time as supporting high radio frequency bandwidth (200 MHz occupied bandwidth and 400 MHz instantaneous bandwidth) and delivering high radio frequency power output, without compromise. Both the new 32TRX and the new 64TRX massive MIMO antennas support both fragmented spectrum and network sharing cases.

Nokia also introduces its new SoC-based baseband plug-in cards to boost the capacity of the AirScale System Module. The new ReefShark-powered plug-in cards deliver up to eight times more throughput and serve up to eight times more cells compared to previous generations. They are easily installed and simplify the upgrade and extended operation of all AirScale deployments. Nokia’s baseband module can support 90,000 connected users simultaneously and has 84 Gbps throughput. The highly efficient ReefShark powered plug-in cards also reduce power consumption by up to 75 percent. Nokia’s modular AirScale baseband enables mobile operators to scale capacity flexibly and efficiently and as their 5G business evolves.

Nokia Single RAN software now includes 5G, accelerating 5G rollouts and cutting overall radio access network TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), by unlocking network efficiencies with common transport, common operability, common software delivery, and increased hardware sharing. The combination of Nokia’s Single RAN software and the new baseband plug-in cards offer multi-mode (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) and multi-band and supports the latest fronthaul interfaces (eCPRI) on a single baseband platform, simplifying the network and lowering costs.

Nokia’s AirScale baseband architecture is designed to be future-proof and support the increasing demands for wireless traffic. By keeping the L1 and L2 (Layer 1 and Layer 2) computing separate from L3 (Layer 3) and Transport baseband plug-in units, capacity can be added when and where it is needed in the network. Network modernization can be simply achieved either by software upgrade or by adding new plug-in units into the existing baseband.

Nokia’s ReefShark chipsets will also play a critical role in future Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities. Nokia has already introduced AI/ML features in areas such as predictive load balancing, anomaly detection, and intelligent traffic steering. All Nokia ReefShark platforms are AI/ML ready and Nokia is carrying out proof of concepts with customers this year in innovative areas such as Massive MIMO beam pattern optimization, energy-saving, advanced traffic steering, advanced packet scheduling, and alarm pattern discovery.

Patrick Filkins, Senior Research Analyst, IoT and Mobile Network Infrastructure, IDC, commented: “5G networks are absolutely critical for improving network capacity and performance, particularly when higher bandwidth is in demand. Nokia’s new portfolio addresses these concerns by enabling mobile operators to flexibly scale capacity while helping to smoothly transition to 5G from existing technologies easily and cost-effectively. The integration of Nokia’s ReefShark SoCs across both radio and baseband boosts performance and capacity and the new massive MIMO antennas set a new benchmark for low weight without compromising on performance. These solutions will help mobile operators to address the increasingly dynamic mobile services space that urgently requires more capacity.”

Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks, Nokia, said: “Our new generation of ReefShark-powered AirScale radio and baseband products is evidence of the successful transformation of our business and ability to deliver market-leading products to our global customers. Nokia’s new portfolio enables communication service providers to offer both consumer and enterprise customers with cutting-edge 5G experiences with premium speeds, capacity, and connectivity underpinned by seamless, simple, and efficient ‘plug-in’ deployment. Our new AirScale products are O-RAN ready. They consume less energy and highlight our commitment to climate change. We’re excited to see our customers deploying these products and see the transformative impact of 5G technology.”

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Visa To Acquire Swedish Open Banking Firm Tink For €1.8B

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Card giant firm, Visa is set to acquire Tink, the Swedish open banking platform, in a deal worth €1.8 billion (roughly $2.15 billion).

The news comes less than six months after the termination of Visa’s planned $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid, the San Francisco-based fintech firm – a deal that had encountered significant opposition from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Like Plaid, Tink’s platform allows customers to connect with more than 3,400 banks and financial institutions to access aggregated financial data, helping them to build innovative personal finance tools.

“Visa is committed to doing all we can to foster innovation and empower consumers in support of Europe’s open banking goals,” said Al Kelly, CEO and chairman of Visa. “By bringing together Visa’s network of networks and Tink’s open banking capabilities we will deliver increased value to European consumers and businesses with tools to make their financial lives more simple, reliable and secure.”

As part of the Visa deal, Tink will retain its brand and current management team, as well as its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tink last raised money in December 2020, when it secured €85 million (roughly $101.5 million) in a round led by Dawn Capital and Eurazeo Growth.

The €1.8 billion transactions, which includes cash and retention incentives, are subject to approval from regulators. Visa will fund the transaction in cash.

Tink’s business model is in part enabled by the EU’s Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which was put into effect in January 2018. The legislation requires banks to give third parties access to the customer data they store, with the aim of driving competition and innovation in financial services.

But the PSD2 framework also paved the way for new payment functionality that allows consumers to make payments directly from their bank accounts without having to rely on intermediaries, like card networks.

In recent months, account-to-account payments have garnered a lot of attention from crypto startups, which see it as a potentially cheaper and easier method of funding wallets.

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