15 OCTOBER, 2021

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Good morning β˜€οΈ ️

Snapchat pulled a Facebook on Wednesday. 

For a couple of hours, users couldn’t post story updates or send messages on the platform.

If you’re wondering why you didn’t hear of it, it’s probably because Snapchat has less than 300 million users globally, a small percentage of Facebook’s 2 billion users. 

PS: TC Daily is like MTN. We’ll be everywhere you go. So, no matter what happens or which social media platform goes down, we’ll be in your inbox every morning. πŸš€

In today’s edition:

  • Events: TC Live with Ciku Kimeria & Fadekemi Abiru
  • Quick Fire πŸ”₯
  • The cryptoqueen who scammed the world of €4 billion and then disappeared
  • Untapped opportunities in Nigeria’s agency banking space
  • TC Insights: Funding Tracker

EVENTS: TC LIVE WITH CIKU KIMERIA & FADEKEMI ABIRU

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Today at 11 a.m. (WAT), join Adegoke Oyeniyi, Editor-in-Chief at TechCabal; Fadekemi Abiru, Editor-in-Chief at Stears Business; and Ciku Kimeria, Africa Editor at Quartz on TC Live, for a deep dive into Africa’s digital media landscape—its promises, pain points and the path forward. 

Register here.

QUICK FIRE πŸ”₯ WITH SIZWE NDLOVU

Sizwe Ndlovu currently serves as Chief Technology Officer at Pineapple. He is passionate about tech education and entrepreneurship on the African continent.

Explain your job to a five-year-old

I am in charge of keeping the computers running!

What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your career/life?

The illusion of perception. It made me believe things were much harder than they really are, and once I overcame that, I realised just how much I was capable of!

What African tech sector do you think needs a boost, and why?

Education. And not necessarily formal. But practical skills. It will enable more Africans to be entrepreneurs in various sectors. If more Africans learned practical skills in large numbers, large enough for them to start their own small businesses, and we had multiples of those on the continent, it would literally turn Africa around.

What (singular) achievement are you most proud of?

The job I currently have at Pineapple. Nothing brings me more joy than granting access to insurance to a great sector of the market that would otherwise never have been able to enter. It makes me wake up every day looking forward to work.

What’s something you love doing that you’re terrible at. And what’s something you really do not like doing that you’re great at. 

Something I love doing that I’m terrible at interior design (the conceptualisation thereof). πŸ˜‚

Something I really don’t like doing that I’m great at: coding. πŸ˜‚

What’s one piece of advice you think every developer should have?

Understand that being a developer is the one field where you can literally think of something and actually manifest it with your hands. Your only barrier to bringing your idea to life is you. Stop at no cost to acquire everything you need to know to make it a reality. Your boundaries are literally endless!

THE CRYPTOQUEEN WHO VANISHED AFTER SCAMMING THE WORLD

In June 2016, a 36-year-old businesswoman called Dr Ruja Ignatova walked on stage in an expensive ball gown, wearing long diamond earrings and bright red lipstick. Holding everyone’s attention, Dr Ruja made a promise many people in the audience couldn’t resist. 

She promised to take their money and multiply it tenfold. Her plan? Starts with crypt and ends with -ocurrency.

It was all a scam, wasn’t it?

Yep, a €4 billion one. One of the biggest scams in the world.

Dr Ruja, a self-proclaimed “cryptoqueen”, promised the world that her cryptocurrency invention OneCoin was on track to become the biggest cryptocurrency in the world. 

Bigger than Bitcoin even. “In two years, nobody will speak about Bitcoin any more!” she shouted. 

And people believed her. They took one look at her awards, her degree from Oxford, her PhD, even her being featured on The Economist, and thought, She looks like someone who knows what she’s doing.

FOMO

And she did too. 

At the time, cryptocurrency was just entering mainstream consciousness and people were only beginning to realise how much they’d lost out on with Bitcoin, so they were desperate to throw their money into the next big thing. 

So when the cryptoqueen showed up with the OneCoin that would supposedly rule all coins, people sank their money in. 

Between August 2014 and March 2017, Dr Ruja managed to convince dozens of people from the UK to Brazil, Canada, Norway and even Palestine to invest €4 billion in OneCoin.

What they wanted her to use the money to do, and what she did do with the money are two different stories, though. 

They wanted her to keep her promise, but Dr Ruja bought a yacht, a mansion in Sofia, and threw a few parties before she flipped the switch and disappeared. 

In case you missed the story (like law enforcement has been missing the fugitive Dr Ruja since 2017) we found it for you: Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished.

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The untapped opportunities in Nigeria’s agency banking space

With around 8,000 bank branches – most of them in big cities – in a country of 200 million people, formal banking services remain out of the reach of most Nigerians. A quarter of respondents in a 2018 survey by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) cited distance as one of the factors discouraging them from patronising formal banking institutions.

More Nigerians are now financially included compared to three years ago. However, thanks to the emergence of agency banking and mobile money models in the country. Both have been key to deepening access to financial services in a largely poor mass market.

Agency banking has particularly seen significant growth, driven by a group of fintech startups, including OPay, TeamApt, and Paga, that dominate the landscape as well as big telco players like MTN. 

Commercial banks, too, have had to rethink their retail strategies with more focus on agent networks as a distribution channel, rather than the costly branch model. As of last year, two of Nigeria’s biggest banks, Access Bank and FirstBank, had around 59,000 and 100,000 agents respectively. Both banks plan to further double down on agency banking.

We had a conversation with the Director of Frontier/SSA Banks & Fintech Equity Research at Renaissance Capital, Adesoji Solanke, on agency banking in Nigeria, relevant trends in the industry as well as challenges and opportunities for operators in the space.

Read What untapped opportunities are in Nigeria’s agency banking space?

TC INSIGHTS: FUNDING TRACKER

This week, Sudan’s tech industry saw its first foreign funding in 30 years after sanctions on the country were lifted last year. Alsoug, a digital marketplace based in the country secured $5 million to scale its digital payment network. 

The investment was co-led by Egyptian fintech unicorn, Fawry, and a consortium of western venture capital firms.

Here are the other deals this week:

  • Nigerian fintech, Mono, secured $15 million in a Series A round led by Tiger Global. Target Global, General Catalyst, SBI Investment, and existing investors such as Entrée Capital, Lateral Capital, Ingressive, GPIC, and Acuity also participated.
  • Eden Life, a Nigeria-based startup digitising home service, closed a seed round of $1.4 million from LocalGlobe, with participation from Future Africa, Samurai Incubate, Village Global, Rising Tide Africa and Enza Capital.
  • Sparkle, a Nigerian fintech, raised $3.1 million in a seed round led by Leadway Assurance, with support from Trium Network and a few unnamed high-net-worth individuals.
  • South African student housing marketplace, DigsConnect, received $200,000 in a grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.
  • D6, an edtech company based in South Africa, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Knife Capital, Hlayisani Capital, and NuState Ventures.

That’s all we’ve got this week.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more updates on funding deals.

BUILD AND INVEST WITH FUTURE AFRICA

Join the Future Africa Collective – an exclusive community of investors who invest in startups building the future of Africa. With a $1,000 annual or a $300 quarterly subscription fee, you get access to invest a minimum of $2,500 in up to 20 fast-growing African startups each year. 

Learn more here.


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JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Every week, we share job opportunities in the African tech ecosystem.

There are more opportunities here. If you’d like to share a job opening or an opportunity, please fill this form.

What else we’re reading

  • Child suicides in Japan are at an all-time high, and it’s all due to bullying and truancy.

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Written by – Timi Odueso & Boluwatife Sanwo

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku

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