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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.

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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Appzone Launches Next Generation Payment Infrastructure for Africa on Blockchain

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Appzone Group, sub-Saharan Africa’s leading fintech software company has announced the launch of Zone, the continent’s first blockchain platform for payment processing that facilitates local and Intra-African payments in fiat and digital currencies.

Developed by Appzone Switch, a subsidiary of Appzone Group, Zone forms the foundation of Appzone’s plans to build out Africa’s first decentralised payment network, which will allow inter-bank transactions to be processed directly between banks without the involvement of any intermediary.

Fintechs and banks within countries across Africa have traditionally performed inter-bank payments through centralized Electronic Financial Transaction (EFT) switches which serve as single points of contact between the financial institutions and handle settlement at defined intervals although they usually cause major downtime when they fail and generate reconciliation issues in certain situations. Zone enhances this by providing a decentralized architecture where each participating institution connects directly with all others so that there is no need for central infrastructure and no single failure can affect the entire network.

Zone significantly reduces transaction processing costs and improves the customer experience for end-users while ensuring that beneficiaries always get instant value for each transaction and that settlement can happen in real-time. For Intra-African payments, Zone provides a real-time settlement layer with a fiat-backed digital token for settlement that allows Banks and payment companies to process transactions across countries without worrying about how, and in which currency, to effect the settlement.

With 10 commercial Banks in Nigeria already connected to the network, Zone provides Banks and Fintechs with simple APIs for various types of transactions including account-to-account transfers, merchant payments, and cash transactions at ATMs or agent locations. The platform’s architecture achieves high throughput and record transaction success rates while eliminating typical reconciliation issues that delay refunds to customers where necessary.

According to Uche Elendu, CEO of Appzone Switch “Zone Switch represents the cashless and borderless future of payments in Africa. With an unprecedented level of network redundancy and security, the platform will eliminate the systemic risk associated with centralized payment systems while delivering the uptime and throughput required in a truly cashless society.’’

In addition to core functionality like payments authorization, and real-time settlement, the team at Appzone Switch are looking to evolve the platform’s digital token for settlement into a stable Pan-African digital currency that is fully compliant, approved by Central Banks, and backed by a basket of fiat currencies in Africa. The idea will be for Zone to manage stablecoin wallets for regular individuals on the same distributed ledger that currently facilitates payment authorization and settlement.

By connecting every financial service provider to this decentralized payment network, Appzone Switch envisions a future beyond cash where payments are frictionless and instantaneous within and between every African country so that Africa can accelerate trade and economic prosperity.

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Mondia Digital and Mondia Pay join Vodacom’s VodaPay Super App offering

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Mondia Digital, a consolidation of the Mondia Group‘s digital content distribution business, an end-to-end, product-centric and data-driven company with a focus on opportunities in the B2B segment, and its digital payments company, Mondia Pay, are proud to have contributed their expertise and innovative payment, content and B2B platforms to Vodacom’s VodaPay “Super App”, which launched in South Africa in August 2021.

The VodaPay Super App, designed in collaboration with Alibaba Group-owned fintech services platform Alipay, allows consumers to do everything from paying bills to sending money, playing games and ordering takeaways. The VodaPay Super App offers consumers a single point of entry and payment platform, with no additional download required.

Mondia Digital has integrated all of its technology, content and services into the easy-to-use VodaPay Super App environment. It is also responsible for connecting third-party content providers into this ecosystem.

Mondia Digital will make a selection of its custom content platforms available through the Super App, including: Mum and Baby – a free-of-charge mobile health intervention that provides maternal, neonatal and child health information designed to encourage good health practices; Vodacom’s vLive app – a lifestyle and entertainment mini-ecosystem within the Super App that uses gamified elements to manage subscriptions to Mondia’s 123 Kaboodle kids content service; Playinc., a comprehensive gaming portal; and My Muze, a 360º music portal.

Mondia Digital has also co-created many of Vodacom’s key branded services on the Super App platform.

In addition to content integration, Mondia Pay has rolled out the provision of its seamless, contactless Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) payment service to the VodaPay Super App. DCB allows customers to make payments conveniently and securely by charging them to their mobile phone bill. Mondia Pay’s DCB service is used by tens of millions of customers across the Middle East and Africa, and provides a highly scalable payment gateway that both customers and merchants can trust.

DCB is seamless, with no need to sign up for any additional accounts or fill out any forms. Payments are completed in a matter of seconds and provide the best checkout experience on mobile devices, where filling out forms is time consuming and cumbersome. Making payments with DCB is secure. No personal data is transmitted during the payment process so there is no need to worry about identity theft.

Paolo Rizzardini, CEO of Mondia Digital, said, “We are committed to the continuing digitalisation of Africa, and the VodaPay Super App B2B ecosystem is an exciting opportunity in this regard. The future of digital content consumption is going to be driven by innovative partnerships that offer compelling and convenient consumer solutions. Our growth across Africa has been driven by our ability to create consumer-centric products with outstanding digital content, and secure long-term, fruitful partnerships with some of the most innovative and dynamic companies on the continent. Our enduring relationship with Vodacom continues to deliver value for consumers and a growing ecosystem of third-party businesses alike.”

Simon Rahmann, CEO of Mondia Pay, said, “The VodaPay Super App is an exciting environment in which to implement our DCB platform. All-in-one environments offering seamless access and seamless payment are the future of customer and business ecosystems. By offering consumers a simple, fast and secure way to pay for services using their mobile phone, we not only encourage financial inclusion, but we make it easier for local and global developers to offer their services to millions more people.”

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said, “Our partnership with Mondia Digital and Mondia Pay strengthens our access to world-class technology and expertise, and leverages their experience across the MEA regions in developing strong, valuable partnerships and delivering seamless payment and content platforms. We want to drive financial inclusion, enhance the business-to-business ecosystem and transform the fintech environment in South Africa, by offering the capabilities of the VodaPay mini programs to as many businesses, of all sizes, across multiple industries as possible.”

While the Super App will be accessible to customers on any mobile network, it will be zero-rated for Vodacom users. The VodaPay Super App is set to be rolled out in other international Vodacom markets.

Developers and businesses are invited to join the VodaPay ecosystem by building their own “mini programs” – third-party, downloadable sub-applications run within the super app.

Some 70 businesses have already signed up or have committed to building their own mini programs in the app, including Big Blue, FlightSite, Dollar, Thrifty, West Pack, Petzone, NetFlorist, Kitkat Cash & Carry, Droppa, Planet54, Jacaranda FM, KFC, and Booking.com.

Mini programs can accept both physical and online payments from customers with the in-app VodaPay digital wallet. Customers can choose to pay upfront, with rewards, or with payment terms such as buy-now-pay-later and nano-credit offerings.

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Fintech TagPay Rebrands to Skaleet

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From today, TagPay will be known as Skaleet, an international fintech company offering a back-end technology platform. Its core banking platform is fully interactive with an ecosystem of banks, fintechs and technology partners.

It has the speed and agility required to quickly launch new personalized services to the market. Skaleet’s ambition is to bridge the gap between complex financial products and customers’ changing needs.

In this new digital world, Skaleet helps financial institutions become faster and more agile in adapting to their customers’ changing needs by offering innovative services. Our range of services allows banks, neobanks and fintechs to stay in the race against the Big Tech threat that is attempting to dominate this market.

Skaleet’s platform offers complete banking solutions for the day-to-day management of retail banking: onboarding, AML-CFT, bank accounting, regulatory reporting, card issue, SEPA, bank accounts, credit engines and a best-of-breed approach to facilitate the integration of key product and technology partners.

Breaking the banking industry’s IT glass ceiling to increase performance and innovation

With its flexible, modular and natively digital banking platform, Skaleet’s ambition is to innovate by offering new services to fully respond to the latest challenges facing the banking and financial markets, as well as to the growth and scalability requirements imposed by the rapid digitalization of the sector.

Skaleet enables banks and financial institutions to leverage its cloud-native platform to accelerate the launch of new financial services that fully meet their customers’ needs.

Yves Eonnet, CEO of Skaleet, said: “Our mission is to support the digital transformation of banking institutions, neobanks and fintech companies. Our ambition is to become the leading technology platform for digital core banking, offering our customers all the financial services they need.”

The company’s mission statement: to put technology at the forefront of the transformation in financial services

Fifteen years ago, Hervé Manceron and Yves Eonnet set out to take advantage of the latest technological innovations to support new ways of providing mobile financial services. This led them to launch TagPay, a technological platform for managing mobile money accounts.

In 2014, eager to respond to the increasing importance of digital technology and changing customer needs, the publisher launched a next generation international core banking system solution. The ambition of this platform: to accelerate the launch of new, competitively priced services. TagPay has developed a cloud-native platform to meet the needs of financial service providers. Cloud-agnostic, agile and scalable, it has quickly become a leading platform for many financial institutions across the world. At the beginning of the year, TagPay reached a new step by announcing its largest funding: €25M from our new investor Long Arc Capital to enrich its offering and accelerate its international growth.

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