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Pandemic Has Spurred Need for Digital ID Systems to Reduce Physical Contact

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Digital ID systems, a prerequisite for developing functional e-governance platforms, have been on the agendas of many emerging economies for quite some time.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reemphasized the importance of eIDs in providing social, medical and financial support to households and businesses.

Electronic identification allows citizens and businesses to prove their identity and access the governmental services online. It enables fully digital processes and eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming manual operations. Such functionality has been crucial during the pandemic, especially for developing countries.

For example, in April Chile pre-enrolled millions of new recipients in social welfare programs, while Thailand, where over 28 million people applied for a new benefit for informal workers affected by the pandemic, filtered out those who had already received assistance from other projects. All of this, including the improved accessibility to medical services, has helped to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on both the economy and the people.

“The pandemic has put electronic identification at the top of the priority lists of many developing countries,” said Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies, a global IT consortium specializing in e-solutions developing and consulting. “It has become a necessary component of digital transformation initiatives for governments around the world, ensuring transparency, security and efficiency of e-public services they are eager to deliver to citizens. The importance of eIDs will only grow in the coming years.

“However, while economies are steadily moving towards digitization, more than a billion people, half of them in Africa, still lack basic unique IDs—a precondition for citizens to exercise the range of human rights set out in international laws and conventions. In the absence of identification systems, people have difficulties opening bank accounts, voting, obtaining formal employment and accessing education or healthcare, while states themselves struggle with government administration, tax collection, response to emergencies, disasters and epidemics, border management and security,” said Mindaugas Glodas.

One of the developing nations that has recognized the importance of unique and digital ID systems is Samoa, previously one of the least digitized countries in the world. Working together with NRD Companies, the Polynesian country has been determined to bring its people an accessible and highly secure identity management system. When the pandemic first hit, the Samoan government decided to continue with the consultancy project remotely even in unfavorable circumstances—a move that speaks to the urgent need for innovation. The new project is expected to help support the economic recovery and serve as a foundation for a digital government platform.

According to Vaidotas Ramonas, a digital identity, electronic signature and trust services expert, identification is the basis for building inclusive societies, where every individual has access to services provided by the state with no one left behind. Once countries have implemented unique ID frameworks, the next logical step is to introduce digital ID systems. There are multiple paths governments can take to initiate and encourage the use of eID platforms.

“The government can start providing eID services by, for example, digitizing some of the most widely-used, costly or inconvenient-to-use public services—ice-breakers, as I call them,” said Vaidotas Ramonas. “Digitization would make the services cheaper, easier and faster to use, which could possibly attract more people to try them out. Also, the government can simply announce, independently, that some service will be available only through e-government for which the citizens will need to set up eIDs. It is possible that at first there will be some discontentment, but experience shows that people eventually see that eID saves time, money and energy, and later refuse to give it up.”

As emerging nations tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their economies, they have a unique opportunity to use the crisis as a springboard and introduce innovative digital solutions. With all of the advantages it brings to the table, building unique ID infrastructure is a good place to start a journey toward national eID platforms.

NRD Companies, with the support from its global partners—such as the World Bank, AfDB, European Commission and others—often organizes govtech-related events seeking to educate policy makers and encourage sustainable change. The next event, an international webinar on national digital identity, is scheduled for September 17th. However, for those unable to attend, the company is more than happy to share a link to watch the event at a later time, thus encouraging any interested peers to reach out.

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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