Oluwatobi Boshoro Resigns as CEO of Nigeri’s Top Fintech Company, Renmoney

Exactly ten months after her appointment, Oluwatobi Boshoro has resigned from her position as the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Renmoney Microfinance Bank Limited.

Renmoney MFB disclosed her resignation in a statement signed by the Company Secretary, Igbiwi, on July 29, 2019. According to the statement, the resignation follows a decision to step away while she attends to personal matters.

In the meantime, the statement also claims that Mr Kieran Donnelly would renounce his position as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and will lead as the Acting Chief Executive Officer, until a permanent CEO is appointed.

Renmoney is a fintech lending company which operates under a microfinance banking license in Lagos, Nigeria. It provides loans to small businesses and individuals through its contact centre, website, branches and agent network.

It also offers market-leading rates on savings accounts and fixed deposits. It is regulated by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and is insured by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Boshoro worked with the Renmoney team to move the company forward by leaps and bounds while she served as the CEO. Under her leadership, the company recorded profit which resulted in their relocation to a bigger office space. It also grew to be known as one of the most popular non-banking lenders in Nigeria.

Renmoney also established mobile experience centres across Lagos state to make its services and operations available to more people. The company has about N170 billion in fixed deposit inflows, and has provided over 200,000 loans to small businesses and individuals in Nigeria.

Online Micro-Lending Platform, Branch International, Raises $5m Debt Financing to Expand its Lending Operations in Kenya

Branch International, an online micro-lending platform, has raised $5m debt financing through Barium Capital to scale its operations in Kenya.

Branch is an online micro-lending platform which delivers world-class financial services to the mobile generation. With offices in Lagos, San-Francisco, Mexico City, Nairobi and Mumbai, Branch is a profit-based socially conscious company that employs the power of data science to reduce the cost of delivering financial services in emerging markets.

According to the East Africa General Manager for Branch, Dan Karuga, “With the high rate of smartphone adoption in emerging markets, Branch is uniquely positioned to leverage its advanced use of data science to underwrite and provide credit and other financial services to more customers than ever before

This $5m debt financing funding was raised on Jul 29, 2019, and it brings the funding amount for Branch International to a total of $264.7M via commercial paper issuances arranged by the Centum-owned advisory firm, Barium Capital.

This capital supports the $170M funding which was earlier raised on April 7, 2019 by top international investors, including Visa, Foundation Capital, Trinity Ventures, the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation and Andreessen Horowitz.

With the increasing use of smartphones in Africa, Brach is providing more financial access to people who are left out of the banking industry by using data science. Branch’s first product offering is lending, with plans to develop into payment products and savings later in future.

Top 5 Technology Trends in 2019

 

2019 started with good terms in terms of technology trends and updates. Now that we are past half the year, there are several interesting technological developments and trends. Here’s a quick look at the biggest trends that have been controlling the technology scenery in 2019.

  1. Machine Learning

In previous years, more tech talk was focused majorly on artificial intelligence, but the focus has recently shifted to machine learning. Though the two are closely related, it is the role of machine learning specifically that is becoming more important. The talk is that machine learning is the tool that can enhance artificial intelligence and upgrade it to its next levels. Thus, numerous applications now apply machine learning both to improve services and to enhance improvement on the part of the user.

  1. Quantum Computing

This is an interesting tech trend that has really gained momentum in 2019.Though it’s still in its early stages, there has been a lot of implementations and improvements talk. For instance, IBM customers now get cloud-based quantum computing.

  1. Blockchain Technology

This is perhaps one of the most interesting and momentous tech trend in 2019. It has been implemented and utilized in several ways, and several more companies are starting to employs blockchain technology within their product lines. Besides, with the increase in attacks, blockchain is now a priority for a lot of businesses because of the security it offers.

  1. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality seems to have followed the virtual reality trend in 2019. It has become a big tech presence in gaming and also in business. The tools of this tech are being employed in various ways from fashion to real estate. It is changing the way businesses operate as evidenced by the lack of shoes in some Nike stores.

  1. Internet of Things

IoT is a tech trend that has much appeal, and it has been having an ever-increasing impact this year. More devices in 2019 now connect and exchange data, and based on expert studies, the number of IoT devices will get to an incredible 30 billion by 2020. This boost to IoT is most likely due to the increasing development of 4G and 5G networks.

 

Jumia and Vivo Energy Partners to Streamline Quality and Convenient E- commerce Service in Africa

Jumia. the leading pan-African e-commerce platform, and Vivo Energy, the pan-African retailer and distributor of Shell and Engen-branded fuels and lubricants have partner to enable a better e-commerce service to customers in selected countries where both companies operate.

The partnership will see both companies develop and execute a series of initiatives designed to provide better services. The implementation of these initiatives is a demonstration of Vivo Energy’s strategy to offer convenient and innovative solutions to customers. The goal is to build on Vivo Energy’s non-retail offer and maximise the value of its well-located and high-quality retail network.

On Jumia’s end, this move is in a bid to resolve the last-mile logistics and delivery problem which is caused by underdeveloped road networks, inconsistent address systems, and limited mapping in several of Jumia’s African markets.

Thus, as a result of the partnership, Vivo Energy’s retail service stations will now be used as drop off and pick up points for Jumia customers, enabling them to collect and return orders made online through the digital platform. Even more, Jumia customers can now place Jumia orders and pay at select Vivo Energy service stations.

The two companies are also exploring the possibility of combining the Jumia digital platform with Vivo Energy’s network of physical service stations.

Speaking on the partnership, the Executive Vice-President of Jumia Marketing, Boris Gbahoue, said: “We are constantly looking at how we can adapt our technology to be a part of the local infrastructure and become more accessible to our customers. We are excited to announce this partnership with Vivo Energy, as we are confident that their retail network will enable Jumia to conveniently deliver products to current and new customers, including in remote areas. We will continue to expand our brand partnerships, with an aim to diversify product offerings

The Vice President at Vivo Energy, Omar Benson, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Jumia to develop and implement these initiatives. Our customers are rightly demanding newer and faster ways of accessing products and services. Jumia and Vivo Energy are both focused on developing innovative ways to make their customers’ experience more convenient and rewarding. We are excited about the partnership and the potential it offers.”

Though Vivo operates in 23 African markets and Jumia in 14, this partnership is to be piloted first in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Morocco and Kenya before being taken to other countries where both companies are operational.

Uber Launches in the City of Benin – its Third Nigerian Location

The car ride-hailing company, Uber launched in Nigeria five years ago, and it has since then been operating in its administrative and commercial capitals. Recently, Uber launched UberX in the capital of Edo state, Benin, in Southern Nigeria.

Uber General Manager in West Africa, Lola Kassim, said, “We are happy to be launching the UberX product in Benin City, Edo State. We collaborated closely with the Government of Edo State on the launch because of a shared vision to promote innovation and create business and economic opportunities in the cities where we operate”

According to the company, users in Benin can now request rides to airport road, University of Benin, Kada plaza, and its surrounding axis. Uber says the UberX service is still in its testing mode, so there might be the occasional limited availability. However, the service is expected to run smoothly in a few weeks.

With the presence of Uber in Benin City, the company can now join its competitor, Bolt, for market share in the lower middle income city. Just like its outlet in Maryland Mall in Lagos, Uber unveiled its Greenlight Hub within the Edo Innovation Hub complex, which will be open Monday through Thursday, from 9am-4pm, and on Friday, from 9am-3pm, excluding public holidays.

The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, witnessed the launch, and came on the back of Uber to officially launch operations in the capital city. Represented by his wife Betsy Obaseki, Obaseki opined that the launch in Benin is one more proof that that State is taking giant steps to the next level of its economic transformation.

Alipay Expands its Footprints into Africa as it Partners with Flutterwave

Alipay expands its footprints into Africa it partners with San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup on payments between Africa and China

Flutterwave has recently partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant company Alibaba to offer digital payments between African merchants and Alipay.

Flutterwave is a Nigerian-founded B2B payment services for companies in Africa to pay other companies in the continent and abroad. It provides payment solutions for payment service providers, merchants and pan-African banks. Flutterwave’s API allows commercial lenders and businesses to process payments across the continent cheaply and smoothly.

Alipay is Alibaba’s payments and digital wallets platform. It currently claims a global network of over a billion active users after surpassing PayPal in payments volume in 2013.

The partnership between Flutterwave and Alipay follows the participation of Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, in Alibaba’s eFounders Fellowship Program. With this partnership, Flutterwave’s 60,000 merchants will be able to accept Alipay as a payment method and tap into the vast pool of Alipay’s over 1 billion users. On the other hand, the Hangzhou-based firm will have the opportunity to expand its merchant network in Africa.

According to Agboola, “there’s a lot of trade between Africa and China and this integration makes it easier for African merchants to accept Chinese customer payments”. Flutterwave, in a company release, claims that to connect Africa to the world, it needs China, hence the partnership.

Flutterwave will generate revenue from the partnership by charging its standard 2.8% on international transactions.

Access Bank Nigeria Deploys New ATM Card Solution

Access Bank Nigeria deploys new card and ATM solution

On Monday, 29 July 2019, CR2 announced that it has successful migrated the entire network of Access Bank’s ATMs to its ATM driving and card switching solution. This makes CR2 responsible for the largest ATM network in Nigeria, as with over 3,000 ATMs, Access Bank is the largest card issuer in the country.

According to a company press release, CR2, which is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, will also manage the migration of the lender’s card management system. This move follows the deployment of CR2 BankWorld solution project. According to CR2, this project will bring greater control, revenue opportunities and long-term cost savings as banks migrate their card management systems and ATMs to the platform. This CR2 BankWorld platform is fully certified for the issuing and acquiring of Verve Card, and it supports all localisation required for the Nigerian services and payment systems market. The digital banking platform enables banks to tailor their messages and branding to customers through the ATM.

Currently, CR2 is one of only two switch vendors operating an ATM network for banks in Nigeria. Earlier this year, Access Bank became the largest retail bank in Africa following the completion of its merger with Diamond Bank.

About CR2

CR2 is a global banking software company which specialises in offering products to the banking industry in over sixty countries worldwide. Founded in 1977 and incorporated in Ireland, the company offers ATM and digital channels which provide personalised services built upon an omnichannel, integrated, digital banking platform known as BankWorld. The Irish company is headquartered in Dublin but it has offices in Lagos, London, Dubai, Amman, Peth, Cairo and Bengaluru.

Nigeria’s former telecoms regulatory chief, Dr Ernest Ndukwe, and pioneer ICT Minister, Dr Omobola Johnson, join the board of MTN Nigeria

 

The Nigerian arm of the mobile telecommunications company, MTN, recently announced that the pioneer Communications Technology Minister, Omobola Johnson, and the former telecoms regulatory chief, Dr Ernest Ndukwe will be joining the board of directors.

As announced by the CEO of MTN Nigeria, Fredinand Moolman, Ernest Ndukwe is to become the new Chairman, following the retirement of Pascal Dozie.

MTN Nigeria grew to become the biggest telecoms firm in Nigeria under Pascal Dozie, who steps down from office alongside five other directors after serving for 18 years at the helm of the company. Ernest Ndukwe is scheduled to resume office from September 2, this year.

The former minister of communication, Omobola Johnson, the former Nigerian pension regulatory chief Muhammad Ahmad, and former banker Andrew Alli who was, most recently, the President and CEO of the Africa Finance Corporation are to be added, alongside Ernest Ndukwe, to the new MTN Nigeria’s 14-member board of directors.

As regards this new board of directors, Ferdinand Moolman said,

The combination of extensive experience across worlds of technology, finance, regulatory and policy development and corporate governance offers a hugely synergistic set of skills that will be of great benefit to us as we move into a new phase of growth.

Ernest Ndukwe is to serve as the Chairman alongside Col. Sani Bello (rtd), the current Vice Chairman.

Airtel Nigeria Rolls out Two 4G Smartphones

Airtel, Nigerian Telecommunications provider, has just announced the introduction of two new affordable smartphones – the Airtel Diva and Airtel Top Notch.

On Wednesday, 24 July 2019, Airtel announced these devices which testify of their commitment to accelerate the uptake of mobile Internet and also improve the data experience of telecoms consumers in Nigeria.

The Airtel Diva smartphone is retailing at N20,000 ($55) with the Airtel Top Notch at N23,000 ($65). Airtel says that these smartphones will allow consumer to enjoy the Airtel 4G experience at a much more affordable price.

Consumers who purchase either of these phones will benefit from the Airtel Double Data Offer, which provides a 100% bonus data on every bundle from N500 and above. On purchase of the Airtel smartphone, you can access this bonus data and connect to the Airtel 4G Network by inserting your Airtel SIM card, and texting the keyword “get” to Shortcode “141”

The Airtel Diva is designed with a 5-inch display screen, 5 MP back camera and 2 MP front camera, 8 GB + 1 GB storage capacity. It has a battery capacity of 2,000mAH (milliamps per hour) and runs on Android Go.

On the other hand, the Airtel Top Notch has a 5.5-inch display screen, 5MP back camera and 2 MP front camera, 8 GB + 1GB storage capacity. It has a battery capacity of 2500mAH and runs on Android Go.

Both devices are dual SIM smartphones, and only the Airtel Network can be inserted into the first SIM slot.

Speaking on the new smartphones, Dinesh Balsingh – the Chief Commercial Officer of Airtel Nigeria, says,

“Airtel is committed in its drive to extending the 4G experience to more telecoms consumers as well as enriching the lives of more Nigerians. It is our hope that the Airtel Diva and Airtel Top Notch, both very affordable smartphones, will help crash the barrier of enjoying the 4G experience. We are committed to empowering more Nigerians as well as connecting more telecoms consumers to their dreams.”

US Venture Capital, Gray Matters coLabs, Invests $100k Funding in Kenyan Startup, Taimba

Nairobi-based B2B agritech startup has secured a USD 100,00 funding from US impact investor, Gray Matters Capital’s gender lens portfolio, GMC coLABS.

Taimba is a mobile-based cashless business-to-business platform that connects rural scale farmers to urban retailers. Founded in 2017 by Dominique Kavuisya and Joan Kavuisya in 2017, the company sources agricultural products from rural-scale farmers directly and delivers to schools, informal green grocers, restaurants and hospitals within Nairobi. Thus, it eliminates the need for middlemen, reduces the agricultural value chain, cuts wastage and makes agricultural produce more affordable.

Currently, Taimba has over 2,000 farmers in its portfolio and it engages with fifteen farmer SACCOs (Savings and Credit Co-operatives) to sell produce, and it also has 310 customers based out in Nairobi.

Commenting on the funding, the CEO and Co-Founder of Taimba, Dominique Kavuisya said,

“We are delighted to become a part of Gray Matters Capital’s portfolio through the coLABS funding. This is a validation of the work which we have been doing and the impact on-ground delivering value to vendors and farmers through our mobile platform. The funding is a shot in the arm for us to strengthen our warehouse infrastructure by setting up cold storage facilities and also our delivery logistics so that we can cater to 6 new markets within Nairobi.”

The Kenyan startup is also planning to establish in Kisumu and Mombasa city by 2020 and intends to introduce new products such as nuts, fruits and eggs to its product catalogue of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cabbages.

The Head of Product Development and Co-Founder, Joan Kavuisya, also adds that the company will expand its tech such that there will eventually be a simple solution that enables traders and farmers to engage and benefit from the startup better.