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Fintech CEO: Morocco’s Move to Revisit CBDC Has Global Implications

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Scottsdale, Ari. – February 25, 2021 – Earlier this week, it was reported by both the Morocco World News and NASDAQ that Bank-Al-Maghrib, Morocco’s Central Bank, is forming an exploratory committee to deliberate whether the institution should launch a central bank digital currency. Significantly, only four years ago, the country banned cryptocurrencies.

“It isn’t so significant that yet another country is exploring the benefits of a CBDC, but, rather, the significance is in which country is doing the exploration,” explained Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges. “Even the slightest consideration from Bank-Al-Maghrib marks a historic day for digital assets.”

The newly formed committee is said to be tasked with identifying the pros and cons, while remaining cautious due to the “speculative nature” of cryptocurrencies. This is in line with the country’s original critique that a lack of regulation created risk for consumers and investors.

“It’s worth noting that, despite the ban, Moroccans account for the fourth highest volume of trading in Bitcoin within the African continent, behind Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa,” said Gardner. “A lot has changed in four years. A lot of bureaucrats were leery about the lack of regulatory oversight back then. Even now, many are still cautious. But, the power of cryptocurrencies is real, and they’re here to stay. Especially in Africa, digital currencies could radically change the lives of the unbanked. The fact that Bank-Al-Maghrib is even contemplating the benefits of digital assets — that’s something the whole world will be watching.”

Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built a client list which includes NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.

“In addition to the raw power of digital currencies, the technology that powers blockchain-based solutions is something that region can’t afford to miss out on,” opined Gardner. “For example, blockchain-based authentication, especially when blended with artificial intelligence technologies, could be a gamechanger in authenticating malaria treatments. Using blockchain verification solutions, African governments could nearly eliminate counterfeit pharmaceuticals, which is a topic our company intends to continue to explore over the coming months and years.”

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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Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund

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Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.

Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.

OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.

So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.

“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.

Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.

“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.

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Verve Partners NIMC to Improve National Identity Management System

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Positioned as a torchbearer for inclusive digitization, Africa’s leading payment cards & token business, Verve has thrown its support behind the Federal Government’s efforts to create a robust digitization framework for comprehensive identity management for Nigerians.

The Nigerian government ramped up its digital identity management campaign to ensure a proper and foolproof identification system, as obtained in most countries across the globe.

In 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) joined the coalition calling for the recognition of September 16 as International Identity Day to further consolidate its target of a comprehensive digital identity management system.

Verve, on its part as a leading card & digital payment scheme in Africa and a champion of digitized identity management solutions, has lent its support to this national undertaking of strategic importance.

According to the NIMC, the digital identity ecosystem includes players in both the private and public sectors to improve the commission’s reach across the nation. Players in the sectors include qualified private vendors who will provide data collection services and issue National Identification Number (NIN) under the National Identity Management System (NIMS) programme.

The commission seeks to enroll all Nigerians and legal residents in a centralized identity database, with the aim of creating an authentication channel that would foster seamless and safe local and foreign transactions.

Verve, as a provider of safe and seamless payment solutions, through its technology framework possesses the expertise and capacity to provide contemporary digitized identification solutions. This positions Verve as a suitable partner in the ongoing public identity digitization drive, providing structures that will advance the goals of the NIMC.

Marking this year’s National Identity Day at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Divisional Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) for Payment Cards and Digital Tokens, Interswitch Group, Vincent Ogbunude, restated the firm’s commitment towards supporting a digital ecosystem in tandem with the aims of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.

Ogbunude said, “Verve is proud to be supporting the federal government on this project. This partnership underpins our commitment and investment to grow the digital identity management system in Nigeria. At Interswitch we understand the critical place for identity, indeed we believe that a person’s identity is a fundamental human right that should not be trifled with.”

Emphasizing the importance of having an identity management database for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the 7th most populous nation in the world, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said that a comprehensive identity database was important in identifying the total number of residents in the country.

He also noted that a digitized identity management system would aid the government in crafting a proper national budget to better cater to the needs of Nigerians.

The minister pointed out that the digital national identification exercise would serve as a convenient substitute for frequent census exercises, “if the database is updated”.

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Flutterwave, 9PSB Partner to Boost Growth of Inclusive Financial Services in Nigeria

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Flutterwave, Africa’s leading payments technology company and Nigeria’s very first payment service bank, 9PSB on Monday entered into a partnership agreement that will help facilitate seamless financial services for Nigerians.

In a joint statement issued by both companies, the partnership seeks to create a seamless payment ecosystem by aggregating and simplifying transactions for banking agents, merchants, and consumers.

The partnership will also support the drive for economic growth through empowerment of the SME sector, entrepreneurs in FinTech and other industries, as well as contribute to the transformation of the informal sector to formal.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, held at the 9PSB head office in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, 9PSB, Branka Mracajac remarked that the collaboration between 9PSB and Flutterwave represents an important milestone in making banking services accessible to all.

According to her, the partnership supports both companies’ commitment to expand accessibility and serve as last-mile delivery of solutions to the unbanked, under-banked and underserved. She said, “9PSB, being focused on the presence in unserved, rural, and remote areas, has a unique business model that provides Agent Banking as a Service to our partners to drive financial inclusion. Expanding on our promise to deliver relevant products, with this partnership, our existing agents, partners, and customers will have a single point of entry to enjoy various products and services provided by Flutterwave.”

With this partnership, Flutterwave and 9PSB are jointly launching a suite of products to enable other corporate entities, FinTech, technology and other industries to take advantage of the robust end-to-end system available for payments, collections, and transactions for both the banked and financially excluded Nigerians.

Commenting on the choice of 9PSB as its settlement bank, Founder and CEO, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola noted that both companies share the same vision and are committed to one goal of powering seamless financial services. “At Flutterwave, we believe in an ecosystem of shared value that transforms and impacts society. We are showcasing the power of strategic partnership and cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s financial ecosystem,” he said.

A paper published by the CBN—Financial Inclusion in Nigeria; Issues and Challenges, admits that there is global consensus on the importance of financial inclusion due to its key role in bringing integrity and stability into an economy’s financial system as well as its role in fighting poverty in a sustainable manner. The partnership between 9PSB and Flutterwave keys into various calls for interconnectivity and interoperability amongst stakeholders in the financial sector in accelerating the country’s financial inclusion drive to create prosperity and grow the economy.

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