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Payoneer Goes Public After SPAC Merger

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Payments provider Payoneer (PAYO.O) went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Monday after it closed a merger with a blank-check firm backed by fintech entrepreneur Betsy Cohen.

Payoneer shares, trading under the “PAYO” ticker symbol, pared its early gains by midday trading session. The listing came four months after the New York-headquartered company announced its plan to merge with special-purpose acquisition company FTAC Olympus Acquisition Corp in a deal valued at about $3.3 billion, Reuters reports.

It is expected to have up to $563 million in cash, including $300 million in the form of private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from investors that include Wellington Management, Dragoneer Investment Group and Fidelity Management & Research Company.

Payoneer, founded in 2005, has a significant number of employees, including its management team, in Israel. It provides e-commerce services to individual online sellers as well as platforms, including Airbnb and Amazon.com Inc. It has published a bullish forecast on revenue for 2021 due to accelerated digital commerce during the pandemic.

The company expects $432 million in revenue in 2021, compared with $94.7 million in 2020. It eyes process transaction volume of $64 billion, a jump from $44.4 billion in 2020, and has plans to invest in more features and pursue acquisitions.

“Now with the public currency, we are able to make bolder investments, make more acquisitions and move faster to do bigger things for more customers and more places around the world,” Scott Galit, Payoneer chief executive, said in an interview.

FTAC Olympus, one of a series of SPACs launched by Cohen, founder of The Bancorp, raised $750 million in its IPO last year. Cohen, a veteran dealmaker in the SPAC space, is also taking Israeli online stock brokerage eToro to the public in a deal that values the company at $10.4 billion.

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Interswitch Unveils Whitepaper on Blockchain Technology Plans To Drive Growth of African Businesses

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Africa’s leading integrated digital payment and e-commerce company, Interswitch Group, has unveiled its whitepaper on blockchain technology titled “Blockchain Technology: The Future of Africa’s Digital Economy” to help drive the growth of African businesses.

The white paper document contains details on how businesses can leverage blockchain technology to transform their businesses and the prospects it portends for the future of Africa’s digital economy.

Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that stores transactions. Essentially, it is a digital system for recording transactions in multiple places at the same time thereby making it impossible to falsify the data stored on it.

Akeem Lawal, Managing Director, Transaction Switching and Payment Processing at Interswitch commented, “The whitepaper document was inspired by the need to demystify the ambiguity around blockchain technology for African businesses thereby driving digitization and socio-economic growth across African markets. We are passionate about empowering Africans and advancing the African payment landscape, and we are consistently identifying opportunities and exploring innovative ways to enable businesses to transform and scale.”

He revealed that the whitepaper document encapsulates the benefits of blockchain technology and how it will help strengthen businesses because of its efficiency, better security in keeping records, and safety.

He further said: “While the blockchain technology is a relatively new phenomenon in Nigeria and Africa, we are particularly excited about our partnership with Interstellar with whom we are developing a native blockchain infrastructure that is tailored to suit the African market. This initiative will deepen digital payment, lower the cost of local and cross border payment as well as champion the cause for localization of emerging technology”.

He urged everyone to read the whitepaper document because it addresses existing challenges in the Fintech sector and simplifies the use of blockchain technology in unraveling these challenges. Download the whitepaper here.

Blockchain technology is evolving globally and businesses are integrating blockchain technology into their business infrastructure.

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Carbon, Network International Partner to Deepen Digital Payment Offerings

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One of Nigeria’s leading Digital Banks, Carbon has partnered with Network International, a leading enabler of digital commerce across Africa and the Middle East, to deepen digital payment offerings in Nigeria and Africa at large.

According to the agreement signed by the two companies, Network International will start issuing physical visa debit cards on behalf of Carbon to enable the NEO Bank to increase its product offerings and address customers’ needs. The partnership is expected to support Carbon’s financial inclusion among the unbanked and underbanked in Nigeria.

Commenting on the partnership, Chijioke Dozie, CEO/Co-Founder, Carbon, said “Offering excellent service delivery to our customers is always top priority and that includes our Carbon Visa cardholders. With Network International, we have a partner with years of experience providing card solutions for forward-looking organizations. And we’re truly excited for how this translates into a better payment experience for Carbon customers everywhere.”

Chinwe Uzoho, Regional Director West & Central Africa, Network International, also stated that the “Network International is delighted to continue its collaboration with prominent African banks such as Carbon in Nigeria, that lend weight to our ongoing commitment to advancing financial inclusion in emerging markets through greater digital payment penetration. We are pleased to support Carbon’s mission of creating greater access to credit and quality financial services to Nigerians and look forward to supporting their growth plans through our best-in-class technology and trusted platform.”

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FirstBank Fintech Summit 5.0: How Open Banking Can Address Market Frictions, Grow Nigeria’s GDP to $3 Trillion by 2035 – Ndubuisi Ekekwe

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Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, the Chairman of FASMICRO Group and the lead Faculty in Tekedia Institute, on Thursday discussed how financial institutions can use open banking access to address market frictions, improve the standard of living, further economic productivity and transform the Nigerian society into an innovative society.

Speaking at the virtual FirstBank Fintech Summit 5.0 on Open Banking: The Grand Unification of Application Utility Age, Prof. Ekekwe posited that if according to Pythagoras the world is made up of numbers, then ‘it means the business of humanity is nothing but the business of numbers’. Meaning, if a doctor understands the numbers around the human system, he/she will become a better doctor, it is the same for banks and other businesses. Therefore, the quest to getting better in any industry or society is to build a solid data system that allows operators to better understand the numbers around that industry or society.

The Prof break this down by using the inherent imperfect market systems that impede big businesses from understanding the needs of those in the rural areas, therefore, making it impossible to profer solutions that could help further these companies’ missions and visions, fast track their growth and help humanity at large.

Using a chart titled ‘the Mission of Firms’, Prof Ekekwe stated that because the demand knows something that supply does not know and vice versa, it is cogent for businesses to acquire capabilities that enable them to bring demand and supply to an equilibrium point where supply can succinctly address demand.

Banks, Restaurants, Fintechs, etc must acquire capabilities that help them understand societal needs before they can profer solutions necessary to make transactions happen. Professor Ekekwe cited the bank’s position as a depository and also a lender, this he said makes it possible for borrowers willing to pay a certain percentage as an interest to approach banks for loans while those not presently in need of their money can equally deposit it in the bank for a fraction of the interest paid by borrowers. By addressing this market friction, the bank was able to make transactions happen, support borrowers’ business and satisfy the need of depositors.

However, because companies that only serve the needs of customers will never be great. It is important to understand not just customers’ needs but expectations and perceptions. This, Prof Ekekwe said can be achieved through the insights provided by the improved data of open banking, saying open banking offers promise to have a better insight into the future of customers.

Therefore, to unlock new growth, financial services providers must become an operating system through shared APIs for all sectors. More data will translate to better insights and more market opportunities that could bolster Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to $3 trillion by 2035 as other companies will have access to those customers through APIs.

Using the chart below, Prof Ekekwe revealed how banks can access data from all sectors through Open Banking innovation and use this information to understand what businesses and customers in the agriculture, healthcare, technology, real estate and education sectors expect of them.

According to him, the knowledge system the bank can acquire from open banking ordinance will not only affect the financial services but also have the capability to impact mortgage business,  real estate business and other businesses in our society.

He further stated that the effective implementation of open banking will increase available opportunities in each sector by a factor of six, bolstering Nigeria’s GDP to $3 trillion by 2035. Explaining how this can be achieved, he said banks and other businesses with data from APIs will be able to expand their offerings by understanding the needs of those in the rural areas, therefore, sharing progress and prosperity in abundance across rural regions.

Bringing it all together, open banking takes banks beyond financial services to become Operating System (OS) of economies by providing retail customers with necessary analytics, viable credit systems that provide insights into their activities and encourage intelligent lending while Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would have an integrated tax and accounting interface that empowers them to understand their own business, cashflow and deposit better.

Other sectors like real estate, Oil and Gas, etc perform better with Open Banking, and even compliance with regulatory guidelines become better and improve with a well-thought-out and executed open banking architecture.  This, Professor Ekekwe concluded would transform Nigerian society into an innovative society.

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