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Snapchat is making it harder for teens across the US to buy drugs.
Last year, the platform was linked to several drug overdoses as teens had begun using the messaging feature to order opiates.
Now, Snap is restricting access to minor accounts. The new update will require people who want to connect to users under 18 to have a “certain number of friends” in common with that person.
The platform also announced that it now detects 88% of drug-related activity.
In today’s edition
- Strengthening local currencies with PAPSS
- How Moni Africa is financing mobile money agents
- Topship sets sail
- 5G is grounding flights
STRENGTHENING LOCAL CURRENCIES WITH PAPSS
Afreximbank, African Union, and the AfCTA, have announced the launch of a pan-African payment system: the pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).
What does it do?
It removes the use of the dollar and other third currencies in the transaction matrix, offering a new opportunity to create demand for, and strengthen local currencies.
That means with PAPSS, Nigerians can pay for Kenyan products using naira, while the Kenyan vendors receive payments in Kenyan shillings, all within 120 seconds.
Presently, most intra-African transactions involve buyers converting local currencies to dollars first, and sending the dollar amount to vendors. Vendors then have to convert the dollars to their local currency.
PAPSS wants to make this a single fluid process.
To help MSMEs.
MSMEs on the continent lose up to $5 billion annually to currency conversion, and they lose hours battling with it as well. With PAPSS, small businesses save time and money on clearance and transactional costs.
Who can use PAPSS now?
PAPSS has been launched in six West African countries—Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone—that make up the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) but there are plans to launch it in other countries.
For now, users who want to try it out have to apply on the PAPSS website.
Zoom out: Like reporter Alexander Onwukwe states, PAPSS isn’t without its own hitches. It doesn’t solve all fragmentation issues, and African currencies will still be subject to devaluation through weak economic productivity, and socio-political events.
HOW MONI AFRICA FINANCES MOBILE MONEY AGENTS
Where there’s life, there’s hope. And in Nigeria, where there’s a shop, there’s a bank!
Agency banking in the country has experienced sharp growth in the past five years from 11,000 agents in 2017, to 230,000 in 2019. While this growth is due in part to the pandemic, other factors such as the affordability of formal banking institutions, and even the distance to the institutions play a large role.
About 60% of these agents double as retail stores or informal traders and while this growth is on the rise, certain barriers are also in tow. To operate profitably, constant access to cash is required almost every time as the bulk of transactions done through POS are withdrawals. However, most agents do not have such liquidity and end up accruing 20–30% in expense to rebalance and manage liquidity.
Basically, they spend a lot on several visits to banks and queueing up for withdrawals.
How Moni Africa helps
Moni Africa is a float-as-a-service startup that offers low-interest loans to communities of mobile money agents through a referral and trust vetting system.
The startup operates a community lending system it claims has helped achieve a 99.9% repayment rate. Under this system, groups of lenders have communal relations, share joint responsibility for loans collectively taken, and make sure one another doesn’t default to ensure the sustainability of the line of credit.
At first, Moni disbursed over 1,000 loans using WhatsApp and Google form before eventually building out the mobile platform that fulfils agent credit requests in less than 5 minutes. The platform has been able to disburse over $5 million (₦2 billion) through 10,000 loans to thousands of agents, and its default rate is presently at 0.1%.
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TOPSHIP SETS SAIL
“Our overarching goal is to make shipping in and out of Africa as easy as booking an Uber or Airbnb,” Moses Enenwali, founder and CEO of Topship, a Nigerian logistics startup digitising freight, cargo and parcel shipping, said to us.
That’s an ambitious statement from a company that was operating solely on Instagram just 18 months ago.
Well, looks like the startup is not just shipping promises, it’s also shipping products and making incredible tractions that may put it on the right track arriving at its huge ambition.
Since launch, Topship has raised $300,000 pre-seed, built a web app that handles an end-to-end shipment experience and pivoted from an Instagram business to a full-fledge tech startup. The startup also has over 1,800 users and has completed over 7,000 successful shipments.
In more recent news, Topship was announced as one of the startups that got into Y Combinator’s Winter Batch of 2022.
Zoom out: It’s still the early days of Topship’s voyage into the business realm. The startup continues to model itself after Flexport, another YC company and one of the biggest shipping companies in the world.
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5G IS GROUNDING FLIGHTS
Several airlines including Emirates, Japan Airlines and Air India, announced this week that they would be cancelling flights to the US and it’s not because of Covid.
It’s definitely not Boeing 777 planes.
Over the past five years, cell carriers in the US, AT & T and Verizon, have been developing 5G bands and the launch for C-band was scheduled for this week.
Side-bar: C-band is considered the global frequency for 5G across the world. It offers more bandwidth, more speed, and with it, users can stream movies in 4K resolution or download gigabytes worth of files in seconds. It’s super-fast, and it appears to have super consequences as well.
The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and some airlines have been against the launch of C-band because the tech could interfere with the radar altimeters pilots use to land in low-visibility conditions. Boeing 777 planes specifically are subject to this consequence, as the FAA explains.
According to estimates, there could be 1,000 flight disruptions per day if C-band is rolled out.
What’s going to happen now?
AT & T and Verizon have agreed to temporarily halt rollout in locations close to airports, but they’re not happy about it.
According to the carriers, 5G’s C-band has been deployed in 40 countries without disrupting aviation services. The FAA had two years to utilise safety precautions, so why didn’t they?
- The Digital Transport for Africa (DT4A) Innovation Challenge is now open to enterprises focused on improving and implementing sustainable mobility of the transport sector on the continent. Selected applicants will be awarded $30,000 to implement new initiatives. Race to the finish line.
- Ecologists are welcome to apply for the British Ecological Society (BES) Ecologists in Africa Grants. The programme provides ecologists working on unique research funds of up to £8,000 ($10,800) to develop their skills and experience. See if you fit!
- Innovators in the MENA region are invited to apply for the Thought For Food (TFF) MENA Agri-Food-Tech Challenge. Entrepreneurs working on programmes that develop food systems can apply for a chance to win up to $8,000, online training, and access to TFF’s digital labs collaboration platform. Think away!
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Written by – Timi Odueso & Damilare Dosunmu
Edited by – Kelechi Njoku
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