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Google’s Latest Tech Showcase: Pixel 8, Pixel Watch 2, and More

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google’s annual Pixel event, known as “Made By Google,” brought a wave of excitement as the tech giant unveiled its latest innovations.

From upgraded smartphones to a revamped smartwatch and more, here’s a glimpse of what stole the show.

Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro:

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro made their grand entrance, emphasizing speed, security, and advanced AI-driven cameras. While the Pixel 8’s display is slightly smaller at 6.1 inches, the Pro version retains its 6.8 inches. Both boast extreme brightness levels, reaching up to 2,400 nits, and a 120Hz peak refresh rate. The Pixel 8 starts at $699, while the 8 Pro begins at $999. Notable upgrades in the Pro version include Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and a feature-packed camera system.

Pixel Watch 2:

Google’s second-generation smartwatch introduced enhanced heart rate monitoring and new sensors for a comprehensive health overview. The addition of body-response and skin temperature sensors, borrowed from Fitbit, brings stress management features to the forefront.

Pixel Buds Pro:

Google’s Pixel Buds Pro received a significant update, including conversation detection, listening stats, and Bluetooth Super Wideband support for superior call sound quality. AI-driven noise reduction and seamless transitions between conversation and music playback enhance the user experience.

Android 14, Google Assistant, Call Screen, and More:

Android 14 was unveiled with customization options and accessibility features. Lock screen templates, dynamic changes based on weather, and more personalized features were showcased. Google Assistant, now powered by Bard AI, handles a wider range of tasks and questions intelligently. The Call Screen feature aids users in identifying and managing calls, reducing spam calls by 50%.

Google Pixel Fold:

The Pixel Fold, Google’s first foldable device, offers impressive features, though its $1,800 price tag remains a consideration for consumers.

Dual-Screen Interpreter Mode:

Google’s innovative Dual-Screen Interpreter mode, available in 45 languages, allows users to engage in multilingual conversations by opening the device flat, with real-time translations displayed on both sides.

The “Made By Google” event showcased Google’s commitment to innovation, emphasizing enhanced user experiences across its product lineup. As technology enthusiasts eagerly await these new releases, Google’s diverse offerings continue to shape the future of consumer tech.

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Fintech

OPay Urges Customers to Complete BVN, NIN Verification Following CBN Directive

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Opay

OPay, a prominent financial services firm, has called upon its customers to finalize the verification of their accounts by linking their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) or National Identity Numbers (NIN) in accordance with the recent directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN, in a circular dated December 1, mandated all deposit money banks to enforce a ‘Post no Debit’ restriction on accounts lacking BVN or NIN.

Accounts without BVN would be placed under a ‘Post No Debit or Credit’ status from March 1, as outlined in the circular jointly signed by Chibuzo Efobi and Haruna Mustapha, Directors at the Payments System Management Department and Financial Policy and Regulation Department, respectively.

OPay affirmed the CBN’s directive and emphasized the necessity for account holders to complete the verification process.

Dauda Gotring, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of OPay, emphasized the importance of a secure and seamless experience for customers.

He encouraged users to comply with the verification process, reassuring them of the company’s commitment to a smooth process and 24/7 customer support.

OPay provided multiple channels for customer assistance, including in-app self-service, WhatsApp, phone lines, and social media platforms.

The company’s commitment to inclusivity and technological advancement underscores its mission to enhance financial services accessibility across Nigeria.

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Telecommunications

MTN Group Ltd. Reports 90% Plunge in Profit Amid Nigeria’s Currency Woes

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MTN

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless service provider, has announced a 90% decline in its full-year profit following the plunge in Nigerian Naira.

The company revealed that its earnings per share for the year ending December fell to a range of 1.07 rand to 3.21 rand (approximately 6 to 17 US cents), a significant drop from 10.71 rand recorded in 2022.

The Nigerian naira, which experienced a 49% depreciation in 2023 and an additional 44% decline this year, has emerged as a significant factor impacting MTN’s financial performance.

As one of the world’s worst-performing currencies against the dollar, the naira’s instability has created a volatile economic environment, prompting concerns among international businesses operating in Nigeria.

The currency crisis, stemming from a shortage of dollars and exacerbated by policy missteps and corruption, has led to an exodus of multinational corporations seeking to repatriate earnings from Africa’s largest economy.

Nigeria, with its burgeoning young population and growing tech sector, has struggled to address economic dysfunction despite its vast natural resources.

MTN Group Ltd., which boasts approximately 77 million customers in Nigeria, historically derives a substantial portion of its earnings from the country.

However, the company’s shares plummeted by as much as 7.2% in early trading following the profit announcement, reflecting investor concerns over the challenging operating environment.

Despite the bleak financial report, MTN highlighted positive metrics such as a 45% increase in data traffic and a 49% surge in mobile money transaction volumes.

However, the company refrained from providing guidance on its earnings margins, further adding to uncertainties surrounding its future financial performance.

Analysts underscored the importance of regulatory stability and economic reforms in Nigeria to restore investor confidence and mitigate the impact of currency fluctuations on companies like MTN.

As businesses navigate the economic landscape, the resilience of Nigeria’s currency and regulatory framework remains a critical concern for investors and industry stakeholders alike.

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Leatherback Set for International Growth as EFCC Drops all Fraud and Misconduct Allegations

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Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dropped all allegations of fraud and misconduct against Leatherback, a leading financial services technology company, and the company’s CEO, Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade.

In November 2023, EFCC announced that it had been made aware of the possibility of fraudulent activities on the Leatherback platform, leading to an investigation into the company’s operations to establish the facts. Cooperating fully with EFCC and working transparently with the organisation’s officials to provide a forensic view of its operations, Leatherback was able to unequivocally prove its innocence, leading the EFCC to drop all allegations and take down all previous communications on its website and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) around the matter.

Leatherback supported the EFCC investigation by making over 5,000 printed documents available to officials to enable as much clarity as possible. Leatherback also filed Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the UK and Nigeria.

According to Toyeeb Ibrahim Ibitade, CEO of Leatherback, “I am relieved to see the end of this arduous episode, but I am even more delighted to see that myself and Leatherback, as an organisation, have been completely cleared of all wrongdoing. With this episode firmly behind us, we are poised to accelerate our mission to provide a single access point that empowers individuals and businesses to be truly global, delivering best-in-class financial, payment, and commerce solutions that remove barriers to global growth and mobility for all citizens of the world.”

Headquartered in London, Leatherback is regulated in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, enabling the platform to serve customers across a wide range of markets effectively. Tens of thousands of individuals and businesses already use the platform to support business and lifestyle opportunities every day. Leatherback is also FCA Authorised, PCI DSS Compliant, and ISO Certified.

About Leatherback

Leatherback offers financial services to businesses and individuals in multiple countries with no restrictions. Users can access up to 15 currencies from 21 countries, including NGN, GBP, INR, EUR, USD, and many other currencies. Users can also send and collect money locally and internationally, with invoicing, analytics, and permissions features available for businesses.

For more information, please visit: http://www.leatherback.co

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