The latest data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, show that internet subscriptions stood at 151 million in June ‘22. This represents a y/y increase of 7.7% and a m/m increase of 0.4% (or c.650,000 new subscriptions).
The figure implies a density of 76% in a population estimated at 200 million, placing Nigeria well above the African average of c.37% according to Statista. Telecom operators have ramped up SIM registration and NIN enrolment capacity after the partial deactivation of the lines of users yet to link Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards with unique National Identification Number (NIN) in April ’22.
MTN Nigeria (MTNN) accounted for the largest share (42.3%) of total internet subscriptions among the mobile network operators. Based on MTNN’s Q1 ’22 results, service revenue grew by 22% y/y. This was due to significant growth in data (+54.5% y/y), value added service (+46.5% y/y) and voice (+6.5% y/y).
Among the mobile network operators MTNN recorded the highest m/m increase in subscriptions of (+1.1%), this was followed by Airtel (+0.9%). Glo remained unchanged (+0.0%), while 9mobile recorded a decline of -2.6% in subscriptions. Furthermore, the commission’s data show that as at end-June ’22, outgoing porting requests were highest for 9mobile (1,661) while MTNN was the chief recipient of incoming porting requests (1,770).
According to the latest national accounts, the telecommunications segment grew by 14.5% y/y in Q1 ’22, compared with 5.3% y/y recorded in Q4 ‘21. The segment continues to benefit from growth in subscriptions and increased usage from existing subscribers. This is partly driven by adjustments to hybrid work structures.
Furthermore, the latest inflation report shows that the communications segment increased by 11.2% y/y in June ‘22 compared with 11.0% y/y recorded in the previous month. This can be partly attributed to growth in operating expenses.
The commission has hinted that an increase in the price of telecommunication services such as calls, and data is unlikely in the near-term. This is despite the push by telecom operators under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) to increase the cost of these services.
In June, broadband penetration increased to 44.3%, compared with 40% recorded in June’21. The FGN had through the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 set a target of 90% penetration by 2025.
The steady growth in broadband penetration will have a positive impact across other sectors such as healthcare, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, and commerce. However, existing challenges such as epileptic power supply, poor infrastructure, and right of way (RoW) fees continue to hinder expansion in broadband penetration.
We recall that in 2020, the Nigerian governors’ forum resolved that telecom operators should pay a RoW fee of N145 per linear meter of fibre. However, based on local newswires, only Kaduna, Ekiti, Katsina, Plateau, Ekiti, Kwara, and Imo are implementing the new fees.
However, we understand that Anambra waived RoW fees for telecom operators in an attempt to boost broadband penetration in the state.
Many states continue to charge relatively high RoW fees. Industry sources suggest that, in states like Benue, Ogun and Lagos, it costs operators N2,500, N4,000 and N1,500 per linear metre of fibre respectively in RoW charges. The absence of a unified RoW fee across the country continuously stalls the advancement of broadband fibre networks.
The NCC has disclosed that the rollout of fifth generation (5G) spectrum services is expected to commence in August ‘22. The commission has also confirmed the issuance of the final letters of award of the 5G spectrum licenses to MTN and Mafab Communications, winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction conducted in December ‘21. The two licensees are now expected to accelerate the deployment of 5G network that will deliver higher data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, increased network capacity, availability, and uniform user experience.
Regarding mobile money, prior to 2020, the CBN had excluded mobile network operators from offering mobile money services. However, in August‘20 as part of the CBN’s financial and digital inclusion strategy, the regulator granted final approval to Glo’s Money Master Payment Service Bank (PSB) and 9Mobile’s 9PSB to begin operations.
In May’22, final approval was granted to MTNN’s MOMO PSB and Airtel Africa’s SMARTCASH PSB to begin operations. The PSB licenses should enable telecom operators to engage in financial services which include receiving cash deposits, processing payments and remittances, issuing debit and prepaid cards, operating electronic wallets, among others.
The sector still requires significant investment in telecommunications infrastructure to drive broadband (and internet) penetration as well as affordability for data packages.
Alphabet Leads Blockchain/Cryptocurrency Investment
Alphabet has so far invested $1.5 billion in blockchain companies between September 2021 and June 2022
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has so far invested $1.5 billion in blockchain companies between September 2021 and June 2022, the largest among global companies.
A recent report by Blockdata has shown. According to the report, Alphabet led funding rounds of blockchain/cryptocurrency companies with $1.506 billion invested in four rounds.
Blackrock, Morgan Stanley, Samsung, Goldman Sachs and others followed as shown in the statement below.
The report went on to say, “Forty corporations invested in companies in the blockchain/crypto space during this time. Samsung is the most active, having invested in 13 companies. United Overseas Bank came in next with 7 investments, followed by Citigroup with 6 investments, and Goldman Sachs with 5. In most cases, we cannot determine how much money these corporations have invested, as they participate in funding rounds with multiple or many other investors. As a proxy of this, we can look at the total funding amounts of the rounds they participated in.
“Based on this, the investors active in the biggest funding rounds are Alphabet ($1,506M in 4 rounds), Blackrock ($1,171M in 3 rounds), Morgan Stanley ($1,10M in 2 rounds), Samsung ($979M in 13 rounds), Goldman Sachs ( $698M in 5 rounds, BNY Mellon ($690M in 3 rounds), and PayPal ($650M in 4 rounds). The 40 companies invested approximately $6B into blockchain startups between September 2021 and June 2022.“
Further analysis of the data, revealed that banks have begun to increase their exposure and interest in crypto and blockchain companies, driven by an increase in client demand for crypto services.
Banks on the list of crypto investors are United Overseas Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and BNY Mellon.
Call, Data Rate to Jump 100% as FG Imposes 5% Excise Duty on Telecoms
Call and Data rates could jump as much as 100% once the Federal Government implemented 5% excise duty on telecommunication services
Call and Data rates could jump as much as 100% once the Federal Government implemented 5% excise duty on telecommunication services, a source from the sector stated.
According to industry experts, the increment will not only impact subscribers but also increase tax burden on telcos which would translate into rise in tariffs.
This, experts explained would increase the total consumption tax on the sector from just the 7.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) to 12.5%, a situation they said would worsen Nigerians’ economic status given the ongoing happenings in the country.
If implemented, Nigerians are now expected to be paying as much as N40 a minute, up from N20 and could be paying up to N2,500 per gigabyte.
Last week, Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, decried the new tax, threatening to take the Federal Government to court for overburden the industry with so much taxes at a time when the telecommunication sector and the entire Nigerian economy was not faring well.
He said: “The 5 percent excise duty will overburden the industry. As a Minister, I was neither consulted nor obtained a memo to that effect. Even the appropriate lawmakers that were supposed to be talked with have also told me they were not.
”Things are not done that way. Besides condemning the tax, we will take every lawful step to guarantee that the tax does not stand.”
However, Ahmed Zainab, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, had different excuse for going ahead with the new 5% excise duty. According to her, the new 5% excise duty was in line with 2020 Finance Act and was part of Federal Government efforts at augmenting the nation’s revenue, especially from the non-oil sector.
The National Association of Telecoms Subscribers and the Nigerian Telecommunication Consumer have joined Pantami and other Nigerians to kick against the decision they considered wicked and inconsiderate.
Chief Adeolu Ogunbajo, president National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) also added his voice. He said the sector is barely holding its ground with the existing 7.5 percent VAT, additional 5 percent will sum the total VAT in the sector to 12.5 percent. This is a killer move on the sector, he said.
Soft POS User Base to Grow 475% Globally by 2027
The total number of merchants deploying soft POS solutions will surpass 34.5 million globally by 2027
A new study from Juniper Research has found the total number of merchants deploying soft POS solutions will surpass 34.5 million globally by 2027; rising from 6 million in 2022. This growth will be driven by Apple’s entrance into the soft POS space; enabling iOS users to access an affordable mobile POS solution.
Soft POS enables NFC enabled smartphones or tablets to accept contactless payments, without additional hardware.
1.2 Billion iOS Users Added to Soft POS Market
The research forecasts that Apple’s decision to enable third parties to develop soft POS solutions leveraging iOS NFC capabilities will result in an influx of iOS-specific services; leading to innovative solutions for merchants. Furthermore, the research predicts Apple’s entry will provide 1.2 billion iOS users with soft POS capabilities; unlocking a previously untapped market.
Soft POS is the latest development from Apple within the payments space; building upon Apple Pay and Apple Pay Later. Soft POS vendors should leverage Apple’s payment ecosystem by developing innovative solutions such as integrated QR payment acceptance, using Apple Pay and Pay Later compatibility to attract a broader iOS user base.
Increasing Contactless Payment Adoption to Drive Soft POS Uptake
The research anticipates soft POS adoption being driven by the increasing use of contactless payments – with volumes expected to rise from 195 billion in 2022 to 408 billion by 2027. Therefore, consumers will come to expect contactless acceptance as standard; forcing smaller merchants to adopt contactless-capable POS solutions. Merchants are anticipated to embrace soft POS, based on cost savings achievable from eliminating the need for additional hardware, as well as mobility advantages over contactless POS.
This will be profound for small-sum and mobile merchants that must accept contactless transactions, but lack the need for high-cost dedicated terminals. As such, the research recommends soft POS vendors must look to target micro and mobile merchants; designing solutions that meet their unique needs.
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