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Happy salary week ☀️

X is bringing back headlines less than two months after Chief Twit Elon Musk removed them to “greatly improve aesthetics”.

Last week, Musk announced that headlines will come back to X soon. This time though, the headlines will be in the top of the link preview instead of the bottom. Musk didn’t say why the previews are coming back, but it could have something to do with this intelligible tweet he made about OpenAI. 

Chief Twit Elon Musk is steadily showing us that CEOs make mistakes too, and regularly—like you on an impromptu Meet call—don’t know what they’re talking about either. 👍🏿

Cybercrime

Patricia nabs Nigerian politician for $760,000 theft

GIF source: Tenor

Four days after its repayment plan was due to start, fintech Patricia identified a Nigerian politician, William Bonse, as a culprit in its 2022 $2 million hack.

According to the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Bonse, who was a gubernatorial candidate in Nigeria’s 2023 elections, reportedly diverted ₦607 million ($760,000) from the fintech’s account into his through a cryptocurrency wallet. Bonse, who is allegedly working with others, had been apprehended by the police who say the politician has “registered his involvement” in the hack.

ICYMI: In May, Patricia was revealed to have suffered a hack in 2022 which cost it $2 million in customer funds. The hack led to several customers being unable to withdraw funds. Since then, Patricia has tried several measures to reassure customers including relaunching its app, offering to turn customer assets into a new Patricia Token, raising funds to repay customers, and even offering customers shares in exchange for their stuck funds.

While, in a May disclosure, the company said it had pinpointed a single culprit, it declined to disclose any details regarding the individual. Bonsu is likely the culprit in this scenario.

Have the funds been recovered? That’s not clear yet. In a press release, CEO Hanu Fejiro said recovery of the amount, while incomplete, would “go a long way to soothe Patricia users.”

So far, the company claims it began refunding customers on November 20 as planned, but several customers have declined receiving any payment.

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Features

Quick Fire 🔥 with Bemi Idowu

Olugbeminiyi Idowu is the founder and managing director of Talking Drum Communications, a public relations and communications consultancy that supports companies innovating in Africa to shape perceptions and get more effective publicity for the work they are doing. He is an African Tech PR specialist, with extensive experience in leading and delivering successful media campaigns for a wide range of companies – from established global players to Africa-focussed start-ups. 

Olugbeminiyi Idowu
Olugbeminiyi Idowu

What drew you to tech PR specifically?

I’ve always been interested in seemingly complex things and the challenge of communicating the value of these things in a clear and meaningful way and this is a skillset that lends itself well to working in technology PR. My technology PR journey started with semiconductors, micro-components and data centres and it was only later that I started working on Software as a Service products and then startups. 

How do PR strategies differ for global players versus Africa-focused start-ups?

PR at its core is basically the same everywhere. It is all about sharing and managing information to shape the perception of an entity. What differs is what the entity is trying to achieve and the context they are operating. For example, a health tech startup in Europe will typically be trying to tell a very different story from one operating in Africa and success will most likely look different. Our job is to understand what success looks like and do what we can to support our clients in making it happen.

One major issue that impacts how PR is done in Africa is the depth of media platforms we currently have. For example, the African tech media landscape is still relatively young and everything falls under the “tech” umbrella. In other parts of the world, you get to work with specialist publications that focus entirely on Information Technology, security, fintech etc. This means you get to tell deeper stories and explore a wider range of narratives for campaigns.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

I can be quite impatient so this means I am always in a hurry. Dealing with people who don’t have the same sense of urgency can be very frustrating.

How do you measure the success of a media campaign?

At Talking Drum, we are very particular about understanding what our clients are hoping to achieve with PR and being clear about whether or not PR is the most effective way to achieve that goal. For example, we get some clients talking about using a press release to reach a download target for their app. I’m always quick to say PR can support that goal but it may not be the most effective. We typically see the most impact and ROI from our work when it comes to attracting talent, securing investment, establishing a narrative, brand leadership and stuff like that. These are all results that you can effectively measure and directly link to public relations activities.

What’s a common misconception about tech PR?

The biggest misconception is that it is just about distributing press releases. I understand where this comes from as press releases are an essential tool in the PR tool kit but there is so much more. There are so many strategies and storytelling tactics that come with PR, as well as different services that a PR professional or business can offer to support businesses in achieving their goals. 

How do you handle the balance between transparency and protecting a company’s interests?

From a PR perspective, information should be shared on a need-to-know basis. Our job is to shape a particular perception of our clients and that means we’ll have to be selective about what we share and how we share it. However, it is important to note that this does not mean being deceitful. Honesty and integrity are non-negotiable (certainly for us at Talking Drum). We also have clear standards on the sort of companies we work with so that we don’t compromise our morals and values. 

What’s a technology trend you think will dominate PR in the next 5 years?

Artificial intelligence is the biggest thing for me. I believe tools like ChatGPT and Bard and things like Microsoft Co-Pilot will increasingly take care of a lot of the repetitive administrative tasks associated with PR and free up human hands and minds to make the most of the thinking faculties and deliver more value when it comes to shaping perceptions and supporting organisations and entities to achieve their goals.

I know there is a lot of scepticism around AI and the perceived threat to human jobs but history tells us that the impact of technology is always net-positive. I am old enough to remember the days when everything in PR was paper-based coverage sheets, press clippings etc. Technology has changed all of that and enabled us to do so much more with collating and analysing information to show the value of our work and plan more effectively. In the same way, I believe strongly that artificial intelligence and other emerging

Economy

How Nigeria’s apex bank plans to curb inflation

MK Fight GIF
GIF Source: Tenor

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is pushing the belief that everything—even inflation—can be better if we all just talk about it.🫶🏾 

Last week, the governor of the apex bank, Yemi Cardoso, revealed a new template that will help the country fight against inflation. Per Cardoso, this template will ensure transparency, and maintain effective communication with the public regarding instances of price control and hikes.

Stat of the Week: In October, inflation in Nigeria hit 27%, an 18-year high. For context, Nigerians started 2023 with a 21% inflation rate. It’s affecting everything from food to medicine; a Ventolin inhaler which cost ₦1,500 ($1.87) in January 2023 now costs ₦16,000 ($19.96).

So far, since his appointment in September, Cardoso—who previously led one of Nigeria’s commercial banks—has maintained a subdued demeanour. The governor even recently postponed the country’s second crucial rate meeting since July, stating that the apex bank had met its quota of rate meetings for the year 2023. 

Increased requirements: Now, Cardoso says the bank might increase minimum capital requirements for banks and regulate payment firms to manage excess money in the market. It’s also working on foreign exchange strategies to clear the backlog of dollar demand affecting the naira. 

The goal, per Cardoso, is to stabilise the economy and manage inflation better.

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Fintech

Egypt is moving to e-KYC in 2024

Oprah's We're Going Digital GIF
GIF source: Tenor

Speaking of central banks, Egypt’s has announced plans to roll out an electronic know-your-customer process next year.

What does this mean? When opening a bank account, banks typically conduct KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures, which often involve fingerprinting, requesting addresses, and identification numbers such as BVNs in Nigeria or birth certificates in other countries. KYC is still very much physical and manual on the continent.

Egypt’s e-KYC plans: Last week, deputy governor for the CBE Ihab Nasr revealed

that Egypt’s apex bank was on track to launch an e-KYC process next year that will cut out the need for going to banks. The process will allow Egyptians use fingerprints and facial recognition on their smartphones. While the CBE has not given an official release date for the service, Egyptian publication Al Mal reports that e-KYC is set for a Q3 2023 launch. 

There’s more: The CBE is launching a new mobile app that will let users open bank accounts in Egypt remotely. This news comes a year after the bank launched a digital payments system, InstaPay, which allows users seamlessly and instantly transfer money between commercial banks. The app will reportedly be managed by the Digital Financial Identity Company (DFIC) in which the CBE holds a majority stake of 55%.

Zoom out: The obvious connection here is that the e-KYC process will power the new bank account opening app. With it, the CBE says Egyptians in and out of the country will have better control over their finances.

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Cybercrime

Fawry completes investigation into data breach threat as deadline nears

Everything is totally fine GIF

In more news about Egypt (and hacks), fintech giant Fawry says it has completed its investigation into the rumours that it was hacked, and customer data stolen.

In a statement released yesterday, Fawry states that Group-IB, a leading cybersecurity firm, has confirmed that the fintech’s data is safe. The fintech’s live platform which hosts all its service including myFawry and FawryPlus were “out of scope” to Lockbit’s ransomware attack. 

ICYMI: Earlier in the month, one of the world’s most infamous cyberterrorism groups Lockbit claimed it had added Fawry to its list of targets. Screenshots provided by two cybersecurity firms also showed that the cybercrime group had given Fawry a November 28 deadline to pay a ransom or risk having its data released to the dark web.

The threats set off a bank run which crashed the myFawry app for a while, and Fawry, at the time, denied the hack with officials from the Central Bank of Egypt supporting Fawry’s denial

Fawry’s big BUT: While Group-IB says Fawry’s live environment was not breached, the cybersecurity firm says it’s possible Lockbit got into the company’s testing environment—where it tests and refines its products—and made away with customer’s personal details such as their addresses and phone numbers. 

But there’s nothing to be worried about, says Fawry. With all its reassurances, Fawry insists there’s no need to worry about this, claiming these details don’t jeopardise the platform’s financial transactions—apparently, because customers using their phone numbers to access the myFawry app isn’t a security issue at all! 🙃

Zoom out: The fintech still wants its customers to feel safe and is asking anyone who feels concerned to reach out via its website. Meanwhile, Lockbit’s deadline—a group that has extorted over $100 million from victims in the US alone, btw—is set for November 28, tomorrow. 

Crypto Tracker

The World Wide Web3

Source:

OneLiquidity  logo

Coin Name

Current Value

Day

Month

Bitcoin $37,348

– 0.86%

+ 9.79%

Ether $2,067

– 0.44%

+ 15.91%

Creditcoin

$0.234

+ 5.70%

+ 56.29%

SELO+ $0.66

+ 64.92%

+ 176.28%

* Data as of 21:55 PM WAT, November 22, 2023.

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The founder of Terra, Do Kwon, is set to be extradited to the US to face charges for fraud. Per CoinDesk, a court in Montenegro has approved the extradition of the founder who was arrested in March. The founder, whose exchange collapsed last year with over $40 billion lost, is presently facing multiple counts of fraud charges in the US and South Korea. Do Kwon is still serving a four-month prison sentence in Montenegro for falsifying documents, after which the justice minister will make the final decision on his extradition.

KyberSwap is offering a 10% ransom to the hacker who stole $50 million from its exchange. Last week, an attacker stole $48 million from the platform, mostly in Ether with about $20 million taken from Arbitrum, $15 million from Optimism and $7 million from Ethereum. The attacker, who teased the platform saying negotiations would start as soon as they were rested, has not been heard from since. KyberSwap then reached out to the hacker, applauding them for the hack and offering them 10% of the stolen funds in exchange for the return of the remaining 90%.

Opportunities

  • Applications are open for the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Research fellowship 2024(up to $15,000). The Social Science Research Council offers fellowships to support the completion of doctoral degrees and to promote next-generation social science research in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The fellowships support dissertation research on peace, security, and development topics. Apply by February 11, 2024.
  • The citizens of Commonwealth countries in Africa can now apply for the Commonwealth Africa Cyber Fellowship Programme 2024. Selected experts will serve as fellows for a year, and get exclusive access to academic research opportunities, networking events and annual conferences, with a focus on enhancing cybersecurity policies and institutions across Commonwealth countries in Africa. Apply by December 10.
  • Applications are open for the Mastercard Foundations Scholars Program 2023/2024 at the Carnegie Melon University Africa. The program provides generous financial, social, and academic support for students whose talents and promise exceed their financial resources. Apply by January 15, 2024.

Written by: Timi Odueso

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