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MTN Has so Far Paid N110bn in Fine – NCC

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  • MTN Has so Far Paid N110bn in Fine – NCC

MTN Nigeria Communications Commission has paid a total of N110bn into the coffers of the Federal Government out of the N330bn imposed on the telecommunications company by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this at a workshop on Code of Corporate Governance organised by the regulatory commission in Kano on Thursday.

He also stated that the commission was rejigging its regulatory activities to ensure that telecommunications consumers get value for their money.

The NCC had in October 2015 imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN for irregular registration of subscribers. However, after prolonged negotiation with both the regulatory agency and the Federal Government, the company had the fine reduced to N330bn.

Danbatta said the fine had been resolved between the regulatory agency and the telecommunications operator with an agreement for settlement over a three-year period.

He added that the payment of the fine was spread over a three-year period because the intention was not to snuff life out of MTN.

The NCC boss stated, “Current evaluation report of the state of the industry suggests that while not understating the impact of other external and fiscal issues confronting the sector, that most challenges negatively affecting the health of operators in the sector today are attributable to poor governance issues.

“It is currently rejigging its regulatory oversights in the areas of ensuring that consumers get cost-effective value for money spent on telecommunications services; and that service delivery by providers are qualitative and efficient.”

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, NCC Board of Commissioners, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, said some telecommunications service providers were feeding fat on masking international calls terminating on Nigerian networks.

Durojaiye warned the concerned operators to desist from call masking activities or face the consequences of their actions soon.

He said, “The commission is particularly concerned with issues of massive interconnection indebtedness and the unethical practice of masking of international calls. These sorts of unethical behaviours are part of what the Code of Corporate Governance is set up to address.

“Henceforth, the commission will be taking very tough measures against any detected unethical behaviour and industrial malpractice in order to safeguard the health of the entire industry. Compliance with the spirit of the code is a necessity.

“Going forward, the commission, as part of its initiatives to ensure compliance, will intensify monitoring level of compliance. To encourage satisfactory compliance, the commission has instituted an annual reward system to recognise and commend the most compliant companies.”

Durojaiye added that good corporate governance was the best form of self-regulation and that licensees of the commission were encouraged to consider it in their own best interest so as to imbibe and implement the principles enshrined in the code.

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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Flutterwave Teams Up with EFCC to Launch Cybercrime Research Hub in Nigeria

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Flutterwave has partnered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to establish a cutting-edge cybercrime research center in Nigeria.

This initiative comes in response to recent significant financial losses suffered by the payment technology company due to fraud.

Flutterwave, a leading payment technology company in Africa, has faced substantial financial setbacks due to cybercrime.

Recently, the company obtained a court order to recover $24 million lost to unauthorized Point of Sale (POS) transactions.

Also, Flutterwave reportedly lost N11 billion ($7 million) to fraudulent accounts in April 2024. These incidents have underscored the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures.

The partnership was formalized through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on June 14 in Abuja by Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, and EFCC Secretary, Mohammadu Hammajoda.

The signing ceremony also saw the presence of EFCC Chair, Ola Olukoyede, and Christopher Gray representing the FBI, among other notable figures.

Agboola emphasized Flutterwave’s expertise in combating internet fraud, particularly the tactics employed by notorious fraudsters known as Yahoo Boys.

He highlighted that the new cybercrime research center would equip anti-corruption agents with advanced technological tools and techniques to detect and prevent cybercrimes.

“The state-of-the-art center, to be built at the EFCC academy, will focus on seven key areas: advanced fraud detection and prevention, collaborative research and policy development, youth empowerment and capacity building, technological advancement, and resource enablement,” Agboola stated.

The establishment of the cybercrime research hub is a proactive step to address the rampant internet fraud that threatens the stability and trust in Nigeria’s financial systems.

The collaboration aims to enhance the capabilities of EFCC operatives in preventing, detecting, and prosecuting financial crimes.

Ola Olukoyede, the EFCC Chair, praised the initiative as a significant leap forward in the fight against financial crimes.

“The cybercrime research center will significantly enhance our capabilities to prevent, detect, and prosecute financial crimes,” Olukoyede remarked. “The EFCC is impressed with Flutterwave’s strides across Africa, and this partnership marks a crucial step towards ensuring a secure financial landscape for Nigerians.”

The partnership between Flutterwave and the EFCC signifies a robust commitment to cybersecurity, aiming to create a safer and more secure financial environment in Nigeria.

This initiative not only addresses immediate financial threats but also aims to build a resilient framework to combat future cybercrimes effectively.

With the launch of the cybercrime research hub, Flutterwave and the EFCC are set to lead the charge against financial fraud, ensuring that the Nigerian financial sector remains secure and trustworthy for all stakeholders.

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Visa and Mastercard Face Setback as Judge Indicates Likely Rejection of $30 Billion Deal

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Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are facing a potential setback as a federal judge in Brooklyn indicated she is likely to reject their $30 billion settlement with retailers.

The deal, aimed at capping credit-card swipe fees, has been a focal point of contention between the card giants and merchants for years.

Judge Margo Brodie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York expressed skepticism about the settlement during a hearing on Thursday.

According to court records, Judge Brodie suggested she might not approve the agreement, stating she would issue a written decision in the coming days.

Retailers have long campaigned to reduce their share of the costs associated with accepting card payments, known as interchange fees.

These fees, which are partially passed on to banks that issue the cards, including major institutions like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., have been a burden for many merchants.

Announced in March and pending court approval, the settlement was designed to allow merchants to charge consumers extra for transactions involving Visa or Mastercard credit cards.

The agreement also aimed to introduce pricing tactics to steer consumers towards lower-cost cards.

“The court’s comments strongly suggest that she won’t accept the settlement,” noted Justin Teresi, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “While Judge Brodie doesn’t seem convinced that larger retailers should be allowed to opt out from the settlement, provisions like changes to digital wallet acceptance rules and some state bans on surcharges likely present real adequacy issues.”

Both Visa and Mastercard expressed disappointment over the developments. A Mastercard representative stated, “We believe the settlement presented a fair resolution of this long-standing dispute, most notably by giving business owners more flexibility in how they manage their card acceptance activities. We will pursue our options to ensure a proper resolution of this matter.”

Visa’s spokesperson echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that “continued engagement between industry and the merchants is the best way forward.”

Swipe fees have become a substantial financial issue for retailers, totaling more than $160 billion last year, according to the Merchants Payments Coalition. Reactions to the settlement were mixed when it was announced, with some retail coalitions pledging a thorough review and others quickly opposing it.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, representing large merchants such as Target Corp. and Home Depot Inc., described the settlement as a “mere drop in the bucket” and urged careful review to assess if it adequately addresses the harm inflicted on retailers.

Doug Kantor, general counsel for the National Association of Convenience Stores, praised the judge’s remarks, stating, “We’re gratified to see that the court recognized how bad this settlement was.”

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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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