NCC Slams 9mobile and Airtel with a Combined Fine of N136M

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has fined Airtel and 9mobile once again with a total sum of N136M for the violation of some regulations

NCC, the telecoms regulator, in the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Report for the first quarter in 2019 said that both telecom operators have failed to operate by some of the industry regulations. The violation of regulations such as the automatic renewal of Internet subscription, the unilateral disconnection of an interconnect carrier and the Do-Not-Directives, has attracted this fine.

Last year, NCC issued a directive to all network providers to cease from carrying out unwarranted or automatic renewal of their data package without the consent of subscribers, as well as their practice of subscribing consumers to value-added services (VAS) forcefully.

Moreover, as far back as 2016, the telecoms regulator introduced the 2442 Do-Not short-code activation to allow subscribers opt-out of received unwanted text messages, and consumers were provided with a toll-free line to report whenever their activation regulated was flouted.

As stated by NCC in the report, Airtel has been contravening the Quality of Service regulation with the disconnection of an Interconnect carrier – Exchange Telecommunications limited – without first receiving the necessary approval. This alone warranted a N121 million fine.

On the other hand, the report stated that 9mobile breached the rule against the automatic renewal of Internet subscription. It further disclosed that the default was as a result of an isolated failure on its Internet subscription platform which was previously undetected.

Both telecom operators – 9mobile and Airtel – were found guilty of going against the NCC Do-Not-Disturb Directive which protects data subscribers from Value-added-Services (VAS), and they were both fined N5 million each for this violation.

This fine follows in the wake of other fines imposed on Nigerian telecoms giants. In fact, MTN just completed payment for the fine slammed on them by the NCC in 2015.

Glo Outperforms Other Nigerian Networks in Internet Subscription

Globacom, the digital transformation leader, has topped the charts in the latest Internet subscribers’ statistics released recently by the Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC) for the month of June.

The month of June was generally a difficult one in the Nigerian telecommunications industry. The total number of Internet subscribers dropped by a high 332, 338, from the 122, 624, 417 recorded in May to 122, 292, 079 in June. The buffer against a total free fall came from Globacom and Airtel who recorded subscriber gains, even as the other operators recorded a loss.

MTN lost 178,103 subscribers, dropping from 52,433,020 subscribers in May to 52,254,917 in June, 9Mobile, the fourth largest telecommunications operator in Nigeria, lost 310,924 data subscribers, dropping from 9,350,477 in May to 9,039,553 in June.

On the other hand, Globacom gained a total of 198,816 subscribers, moving from 28,825,533 data subscribers in May to 29,022,349 in June. Airtel also gained a total of 42,510 Internet subscribers in this period.

This is not in total unsurprising as Globacom has proven to be a favourite among Internet subscribers over the years on account of its budget-friendly, customer-friendly data packages and the recent improvement in its internet connectivity.

Globacom is the first telecoms operator to launch a nationwide 4G in 2016, and since then, the millions of GLO subscribers have been able to enjoy efficient, instant broadband internet connectivity.

Cowrywise and PiggyVest Scale up to Become Virtually Digital Banks

On July 30, this year, users of the Nigerian Fintech, online savings and investment platform, PiggyVest, received emails introducing them to the “NUBAN Account Numbers for PiggyVest”

The new PiggyVest NUBAN feature allows users to transfer funds to their PiggyVest wallet via multiple sources. Users can fund their accounts with Internet banking directly, USSD and other bank transfer channels, without needing a debit card.

PiggyVest users can now fund their PiggyFlex accounts through a dedicated bank account number from Providus Bank. Launched in June 2018, the PiggyFlex Account is a sub-account of PiggyVest where all interests earned on the platform are paid to users. Even more, users can now receive transfers from their friends and family, as well as payments for services rendered, straight into their PiggyFlex accounts to be accessed at anytime with no charge.

Around the same time NUBAN launched, Cowrywise, another Nigerian fintech online savings and investment platform, announced Stash, a new feature which was launched last week Friday. Much like the PiggyVest NUBAN, Stash allows users to fund their Cowrywise accounts through all transfer channels from any Nigerian bank. According to the co-founder and CEO of Cowrywise, Rasaq Ahmed, “What we have done with Stash is to plug Cowrywise into the instant payment getaway, just like any other bank account, and what it does is you can move money from any bank account in Nigeria and transfer it to your Cowrywise Stash”

He further explained how Stash, like PiggyFlex Account, has a dedicated virtual number for each user powered by Providus Bank. Speaking on this, he said, “We worked through Team Apt to get it done. Providus Bank is the available bank at the moment. But in the coming weeks, more banks will join the race and begin serving virtual account numbers that anyone can create on the back of any fintech platform. You’ll get to see GTBank, Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, and Wema Bank account numbers in the next few weeks”.

Unlike the PiggyVest platform, transferring funds from the Stash account to a third-party account number attracts a transfer charge of N25. However, this is still far lesser than the regular N52.50 charged by Nigerian banks for inter-bank transfers.

According to both Cowrywise and PiggyVest, these new features will aid users in funding their investment and savings plans, while keeping emergency

Carbon Introduces a 1% Transfer Transaction Fee

Formerly known as Paylater, the Nigerian Fintech startup, Carbon, has introduced a 1 per cent transaction fee for each time a user transfers funds to their Wallet on the app. This became effective from yesterday, the 5th of August, 2019.

The Carbon mobile app was launched three years ago with a goal to empower users with the financial access needed to pursue a life of prosperity and dignity. To sharpen this focus, Carbon launched its current best feature – the Wallet, in December 2018. This Wallet feature allows Carbon users to store value in the app, and benefit from the cheapest financial transactions in Nigeria.

Prior to the launch of the Digital Wallet feature, performing transactions on the Carbon mobile app required users to employ their bank debit card, or transfer money from a separate bank account to lock in an investment or make a loan repayment. Since its launch in December, the funding for the Wallet was free and wallet top ups attracted no fees.

On the reason for this recent change, the company explained that the no-funding Wallet service came at a significant cost as the company had to pay fees to the debit card issuer and payment processors for each card that a user top-up using Carbon. The company further said that its fast-growing customer base has made managing the cost incurred from the service “unsustainable”, hence the “reluctant” decision of making a little change by passing the cost to customers.

Nonetheless, users still won’t be charged for SMS fees, maintenance fees, and other charges common with the traditional banks. According to the company in a statement, “this change will allow us to redirect resources into faster innovation and make Carbon the perfect financial partner”.

Meanwhile, the company further disclosed that it will be releasing new features, including allowing users to fund their wallet directly from their bank account through either bank transfers or USSD, without the need for card top-ups.

 

Multichoice Africa Announces the Appointment of Reatile Tekateka as its New Executive Head of Corporate Affairs

On the 1st of August, 2019, MultiChoice Africa announced the appointment of Reatile Tekateka as the new Executive Head of Corporate Affairs for MultiChoice Africa Holdings B.V. In this position, Reatile Tekateka is to report only to Hennie Visser, CEO of MultiChoice Africa.

Reatile Tekateka is a highly experienced communications professional with skills in corporate communication, reputation management, internal communications, PR and stakeholder management. According to a released statement from MultiChoice, she obtained an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the same institution.

She has gained career experience of over 13 years in the fields of financial services, media, mining, and FMCG. Tekateka was also recently appointed as the Managing Partner for the PR Agency of brand and communications group – Joe Public. She has also been the Head of PR Communications at Econet Media, the Head of PR at Liberty Group, and the Business Unit Head at Magna Carta.

Commenting on this, the CEO of MultiChoice Africa, Henne Visser, said “We are pleased with the appointment of Reatile who brings within MultiChoice Africa an impressive professional footprint in Africa. Reatile will play a critical role in building and executing strategies that will assist MultiChoice Africa [to] navigate diverse media, as well as [a] specialized and diverse set of skills and experience to navigate highly complex and regulated industries across diverse geographies,”

Under the strategic leadership of Reatile Tekateka, MultiChoice is expected to continue striving for a distinguished reputation, and a stakeholder management in ensuring that the business fulfils its strategy in Africa.

Correction: “Ventures Platform Changes Leadership as Founder and Executive Director, Kola Aina Steps Down”

The Founder and Executive Director of Ventures Platform Foundation, Kola Aina, has stepped down from his role in the company.

In our post on Thursday, we stated that the Founder and Executive Director of Ventures Platform has stepped down completely from his role. This was however a mistake on our part.

As said on Thursday, the Ventures Platform Hub consists of three distinct organisations: the Ventures Platform Foundation, Ventures Park (the co-working business), and the Ventures Platform fund, through which it has invested in noteworthy startups like Tizeti, Paystack and PiggyVest.

So, in truth, Kola Aina has stepped down from his role as the Executive Director of the Ventures Platform Foundation, which is the arm of the company that fosters skill development and entrepreneurship in Africa. Now, Mr Kola Aina will move to the company board and will continue leading the Ventures Platform Fund’s investment in African startups.

Speaking on this, Mr Kola Aina said, “Over the the course of 3+ years, Ventures Platform has morphed into 3 entities under the “umbrella”; Ventures Platform Hub, and today we have made some leadership changes effective 1 August, 2019.”

He went on to explain, saying, “At Ventures Platform Foundation — where we are working to build the future of Africa through skills, innovation and entrepreneurship — Mimshach Obioha is the new Executive Director. He will provide focused leadership to the amazing teams that work with our partners to implement various programs based on our theory of change.

At Ventures Park — where we create enabling environments for entrepreneurs, innovators, and change-makers — Nkechi Oguchi is the new CEO. She will drive and expand upon the mission of creating enabling communities for the builders of Africa’s future.”

He concluded, saying, “At Ventures Platform Fund — where we provide capital and support for early-stage startups — I will continue to lead our investment efforts and look forward to spending more time discovering bold founders building the future of the continent.”

Ride-Hailing Platform, Gozem to Launch Digital Wallet Product and Delivery Services

The on-demand, ride-hailing startup Gozem which operates in Benin and Togo has recently revealed plans to launch a digital wallet and a food and parcel delivery service in 2020.

According to the Managing Director of Gozem, Emeka Ajene, the company is executing the first phase of its strategy, which will lead to the build of a robust ride-hailing business across two to three markets.

The Gozem strategy is an aggressive expansion plan with a product road-map that spans across the top sectors in Africa – transport, logistics payments, and even capital. The company is currently preparing for its second phase which includes the launch of its delivery services and digital wallet across all its markets.

 

About Gozem

The startup, Gozem, was founded by Emeka Ajena and the Singabore-based co-founder, Raphael Dana in 2018. Before co-founding Gozem, Ajene had led business development and operations for Uber Nigeria in 2016.

Gozem is registered in Singapore where it has been operating as a ride-hailing service that relies on auto-rickshaws, motorcycle-taxis and air-conditioned taxis. It only began operating in Benin last month after launching in Togo in 2018.

The plan of this startup is to achieve expansion to 10 other West and Central Africa countries over the next three years. These countries include Gabon, Ivory Coats, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Senegal.

Since its launch last year, Gozem founders have raised over $3 million in funding, and 800 drivers are registered to the platform. It is headquartered in Singapore because the greater percent of its founding teams are located there. The company aims to increase its drivers’ portfolio to 3,000 by the end of 2019, and to 300,000 by 2024. Currently, it has about 130,000 users.

Uzoma Dozie Launches Sparkle to Change the Face of Retail in Nigeria

Uzoma Dozie, the last Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) has recently announced that he is launching Sparkle, a new financial technology community and ecosystem.

Uzoma Dozie is poised to change the face of the retail industry in Nigeria with the launch of Sparkle, a mobile-first platform which will offer lifestyle and financial services to the multi-billion-dollar retail sector.

Sparkle will handle the manner in which retailers realize their daily objectives and progress their businesses, offering a suite of innovative lifestyle services, in addition to the regular current and savings that exist in the market.

The Sparkle development team is building a digital framework that allows retailers to register their companies, register for tax. It aims to bridge the gap between business advisory and regulatory services for retail SMEs. Consequently, the mobile app is expected to driver a wider regulatory reform and financial inclusion in the retail market.

Specifically, Sparkle will deliver support services based on customer experience, ranging from invoicing statements and inventory management to POS-via-mobile function and foreign exchange services.

Powered by machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Sparkle aims to build a dynamic community around retailers and consumers in Nigeria that will influence the purchasing decisions based on user-generated behavioural purchase data. According to a statement from the Sparkle Team, Sparkle will actively support retailers in navigating a better route to market by leading the right consumers their way.

Speaking on this, the founder and CEO of Sparkle, Dozie commented that, “Retailers and Consumers in Nigeria are currently disconnected. Sparkle is building the solution around its understanding of the challenges of small businesses, which help to reduce the operational risks small businesses are exposed to in their infancy. Sparkle is a product. Sparkle is a community. It is born out of necessity for Nigeria’s retail landscape”

“We will connect millions of retailers on a digital platform, providing a service they can trust, that is seamless, and that allows for frictionless transactions across all activities and business services. Having spent more than 20 years building the retail arm of Diamond Bank, it is clear that there is a significant gap in the market to incubate and roll out a new approach to services for retailers, and at scale. They need a financial and business service partner, not another finance platform. This is where we stand out from all others”, he said.

He concluded by saying, “Sparkle is a collaborative effort between retailer and consumer – a support system that will ensure far greater financial inclusion and much improved access to market, built for many, built to scale.”

Set to be released this year, Dozie further informed that Sparkle will release plug-in APIs, whereby external developers can contribute and build solutions. The company has entered partnerships with Network International, Visa, and will also be working with Microsoft.

The PwC company is to design and implement future-focused operating models to support Sparkle’s business strategy, while simultaneously co-creating disruptive technology solutions backed by the power of PWCs Experience Centre. Femi Osinubu, the Partner and Leader, Experience Centre and Emerging Technology, PwC Nigeria, said, “We are very excited about our relationship with Sparkle and the prospects of working with the company to create Nigeria’s first whole digital financial services company”.

Ventures Platform Changes Leadership as Founder and Executive Director, Kola Aina Steps Down

The Founder and Executive Director of Ventures Platform Foundation, Kola Aina, has stepped down from his role in the company.

Ventures Platform is a leading source of capacity building, capital, advocacy and support for under-served entrepreneurs, institutions and communities, enabling them to enhance the creation and development and wealth in Africa. Its investment portfolio includes PiggyVest, Paystack, MDaaS, Thrive Agric, Tizeti, Reliance HMO, crowdForce, etc.

The Ventures Platform Hub consists of three distinct organisations: the Ventures Platform Foundation, Ventures Park (the co-working business), and the Ventures Platform fund, through which it has invested in noteworthy startups like Tizeti, Paystack and PiggyVest. The three organisations has been led by the pioneer founder, Kola Aina, till he recently stepped down.

Kola Aina is succeeded by Mimshach Obioha, former Director of Partnerships This replacement has a ripple effect in the leadership of Ventures Platform as Former Chief of Staff, Lamide Johnson, becomes the Director of Partnerships for Ventures Platform Foundation, while Nkechi Oguchi, takes on the role of Chief Executive Officer for Ventures Park. These three appointments are effective from today, August 1, 2019.

Speaking about the changes in leadership roles, Kola Aina said,

I am really proud to see that a little over 3 years from when we began the VP journey we have internal leaders emerge through what was a competitive process, to scale up the work that began from a simple mission to provide hassle-free capital that would enable bold and young Africans to build a better future. Today, these changes will ensure that we can better deliver on our expanded theory of change – spanning access to capital, capacity, and community.”

Kola admits that with more time at his disposal, he will be taking on a few personal adventures as well as take on more exciting projects in the next months.

CBN Grants MTN Super-Agent Fintech License

Central Bank of Nigeria has granted a subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, Yello Digital Financial Services (YDFS), license to operate financial services in Nigeria.

YDFS was created in June 2018 as MTN Nigeria’s main pivot into the financial sector of Nigeria. Thus, YDFS was registered as a fintech company in order to enable qualification for the CBN license. According to the CEO of MTN Nigeria, Fred Moolman, YDFS has been granted a “full super agent” license by CBN.

This license will enable MTN to convert their current airtime agents and recruit other small businesses to distribute financial services.

Speaking on this, Moolman disclosed, “Through the network established by YDFS, MTN is in a position to broaden the availability of financial services for the under-served across the country. This marks a very important first step in leveraging our infrastructure to scale our Fintech initiatives”.

MTN is the biggest telecommunications company in Nigeria with 65.3 million subscribers, and it has leveraged this, through YDFS, to gain prominent footing as a financial provider. In MTN Nigeria disclosure posted to Nigeria Stock Exchange, YDFS received approval in principle for its Super-Agent License in December 2018, and has been conducting a pilot experiment since then to meet the conditions of a full license. MTN Nigeria said that the success of the pilot led to the granting of a full license under which the subsidiary, YDFS can now distribute financial services to all Nigerians.

Fred Moolman further said that the company has applied for a Payment Service Bank License which will enable them to offer a deeper and broader range of financial services to under-served communities in the country.

Airtel Nigeria is another telecoms company making the push to launch mobile money services in the country as disclosed by Airtel last year.