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NCC Removes USSD Pricing Cap, Says MNOs, Banks Should Negotiate

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NCC Says MNOs, Banks Should Negotiate USSD Rate

The Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday said it has removed the pricing limit set for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, said the commission has amended its directive of July 2019 by removing the price limit placed on USSD to allow MNOs and financial institutions negotiate appropriate pricing structure for the service.

According to him, each USSD session of 20 seconds cost N1.63 per session on the MNO network.

He, therefore, said the cost should form the basis for negotiation between the two parties –MNO and other related USSD service providers.

This was coming after a dispute between MNOs and financial institutions in 2019, with MTN and other MNOs saying they will be charging USSD users directly instead of the free service previously offered to financial institutions providing USSD services.

In the amended determination of August 1, 2020, the NCC said if both parties failed to reach an agreement it would once again step in to determine the right rate for both parties.

However, telecommunications regulators have said the refusal to agree on a succinct rate that works for both parties or negotiate in good faith world result in discontinuation of service provision. Meaning, codes for USSD transactions may be withdrawn or the regulating body will impose sanctions on the entire service.

Telecommunication companies have blamed banks for profiting from their service yet refused to pay for the same service that has helped them expand their operations and reach to the unbanked.

In November 2019, Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said telecommunications companies incurred expenses daily for providing banks USSD services.

He said, “The USSD is a service we are providing for the banks and there is a cost incurred by telecom operators for providing those services.

“The bank has given an erroneous impression to the public that it is a sunk cost and it is not because for the service to be allowed, the cell site must be powered, there must be transmission link available and our systems must interconnect with the systems of the banks. It is a recurring cost other than the initial capital.

Banks, on the other hand, have said an agreement was reached with telecommunications companies on USSD service.

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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Interswitch is the Most Valuable African Startup

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Interswitch, the leading payment processing company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, is Africa’s most valuable start-up at a US$ 1 billion valuation.

Founded in 2002, Interswitch uses switching infrastructure to connect different banks in Nigeria and powered banks’ ATM cards. Presently, the company has over 11,000 ATMs on its network.

In 2010, Helios Investment Partners bought two-thirds of the company and in the following year, Interswitch bought a 60 percent stake in Bankom in Uganda.

Interswitch owns Verve, Nigeria’s most used payment card, and accounted for 18 million of 25 million cards in circulation in Nigeria. The company also owns Quickteller and recently purchased VANSO, a mobile-focused technology provider to banks.

Like Interswitch, Stripe, the company that acquired Nigeria’s Paystack for over US$200 million, is the most valuable startup in the USA at over US$70 billion valuation.

Klarna, Nubank, Paytm and Grab leads in Europe, Latin America, India and Southeast Asia with valuations of US$10.65 billion, US$10 billion, US$16 billion and US$14 billion, respectively.

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E-commerce Black Friday Sales Estimated to Surge by 40% to 10.2 Billion

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The 2020 holiday shopping season will be unique, as the pandemic shifted consumer behavior from retail stores to online shopping. In response, many retailers moved their services online to not miss out on this year’s profits. Atlas VPN team decided to look into how e-commerce sales are set to perform in the upcoming long weekend.

Researchers predict that the US e-commerce revenue will exceed last year’s earnings by 49.5% on Thanksgiving day, totaling $6.18 billion in revenue. Black Friday is calculated to reach $10.2 billion in sales, exceeding last years numbers by 39.4%

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her tips on how to stay safe when shopping online during the holiday season:

“Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals from unknown sellers, as cybercriminals will also expect to turn a profit during the holiday season, even though they are not selling anything, except maybe a bag full of disappointment.”

 Finally, analysis shows that on the last day of the long and full of special offers Thanksgiving weekend, consumers will go all out to bring record sales for e-commerce businesses, adding up to $12.89 billion.

To look at these five days from a wider perspective, e-commerce companies can expect to earn around 39.72% more than they did last year.

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Alibaba Merchants Sell $40B in First Half Hour of Singles Day 2020, More than 2019 Event Full Sales

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Singles Day 2020 was a roaring success, cementing its position as the world’s biggest shopping holiday. Sales across Alibaba’s platforms during the event totaled $74.1 billion, up from $38 billion in 2019.

According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, within the first 30 minutes of the event, the gross merchandise volume (GMV) surpassed 2019’s full-event sales, reaching $40.87 billion.

Moreover, instead of live events, Alibaba had 400 company executives and 30 celebrities hosting livestreams. Based on a study by Coresight, the Chinese livestream market is set to rack in sales worth $125 billion in 2020, compared to $63 billion in 2019. The US livestream market is a small fraction of that, valued at $5 billion.

China’s Tech Heavyweights Lose $280 Billion in Market Cap

Alibaba Singles Day 2020 dwarfed other major shopping holidays as has been the trend in previous years.

According to Practical eCommerce, Amazon Prime Day 2020 sales totaled $10.4 billion up from $7.16 billion in 2019. Cyber Monday sales in the US amounted to $7.9 billion in 2020 according to Statista. Black Friday and Thanksgiving added $9.7 billion to the figure to make $17.6 billion for the weekend.

Similarly, in 2018, Singles Day sold $30.8 billion while Prime Day sold $4.19 billion and Thanksgiving weekend got $14.2 billion.

However, the 2020 Singles Day event came in the wake of Ant Group’s suspension of a $37 billion listing. The suspension resulted in a $76 billion drop in Alibaba’s market cap, as the tech giant owns a two-thirds stake in Ant Group. Moreover, China’s regulators released anti-trust draft rules prior to the event, aimed at controlling monopolistic behavior.

Following the release, Alibaba shares plunged by 9.8%, as JD.com shed off 9.2%. Tencent similarly saw a 7.39% drop and Xiaomi fell by 8.18%. For the five companies, there was a combined loss of $280 billion in market capitalization.

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