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Happy salary week 🎉
It’s now been over 36 hours since the M-Pesa Paybill blackout that has stalled millions of Kenyans from paying their bills.
This time, it doesn’t seem like Safaricom will be able to claim the blackouts were scheduled maintenance breaks as it did in a three-hour outage two weeks ago.
It remains to be seen what Kenya’s telecom watchdog will say this time. Meanwhile, users have taken to X (Twitter) to look for alternatives which include Safaricom’s competitor, PesaLink, which says it’s working on a rival product. Dig in.
Nigerian startups pursue SEC licences after CBN lifts crypto ban
A month after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lifted its two-year ban on crypto-related bank accounts, three major players—Quidax, Yellow Card and Luno—are reportedly pursuing licences from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to insider sources, Luno and Quidax kickstarted conversations with the SEC as early as October 2023. Both firms, however, are yet to confirm with Luno stating that it cannot disclose any discussion it’s having with regulatory authorities. The moves hint at a broader trend within the industry.
In December, CBN eased restrictions on banks transacting with crypto firms, replacing the ban with guidelines requiring banks to obtain Bank Verification Numbers( BVN) of crypto businesses. Additionally, crypto companies must obtain a license from the SEC, which issued rules on digital asset offerings and collections in May 2022.
Are Nigerians using crypto? A big question has always been if the Nigerian crypto companies chasing after these regulations have an interested market base. A contested 2022 report from KuCoin would have us believe that 35% of Nigerians own crypto assets, but the methodology of that report suggests that the data pool was too narrow.
An answer may lie in one of Chainanalysis’ reports which states that Nigeria accounted for the majority of the $117 billion in crypto transactions made between July 2022 and July 2023. The same report also shows that Nigeria’s crypto transaction volume surged by 9%, year-over-year by mid-2023, landing the country in third place behind Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
Regardless of the answer, Nigeria’s crypto industry is still young, and its recent stance shows that it may be making moves to bolster the space.
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Twiga and Incentro settle $261,000 debt dispute
In December, Kenyan e-commerce platform Twiga Foods and Incentro Africa ended the year with a court order that gave both companies till March 2024 to settle their dispute.
And now, it looks like they have. Twiga and Incentro, a Google Cloud reseller, have reached an agreement after months of dispute over $261,000 in unpaid invoices for Google Cloud services.
Insiders claim both parties have agreed to ask Google to cancel the original contract.
ICYMI: In 2021, Twiga agreed to pay $83,000 monthly for three years of cloud services from Incentro. In return for this long-term commitment, Google offered Twiga $200,000 in incentives and perks via Incentro. However, with the Kenyan shilling depreciating by 32% against the dollar, the recurring bill became too costly for Twiga.
The dispute emerged when Twiga shifted focus from growth to profitability, resulting in payment delays. Subsequently, Incentro took legal action to enforce the payment. Twiga was forced to raise a $35 million convertible bond as a result.
Following the departure of co-founder Peter Njonjo, CFO Zuber Momoniat played a key role in resolving the dispute. Momoniat reportedly states that Incentro has agreed to retract the lawsuit and renegotiate the original contract terms with Google in light of the “current global economic climate”.
While Incentro has not yet withdrawn the lawsuit, it has sent a letter committing to doing so once the negotiation with Google is settled.
Netflix acquires exclusive rights to WWE
Netflix is getting in the ring.
Starting January 2025, Netflix will be the exclusive home of WWE’s Monday night wrestling show, Raw, which is watched by over 15 million fans worldwide. The acquisition puts Netflix even further ahead in a global streaming war it’s already winning.
The $5 billion deal will span 10 years, and will see Netflix stream all WWE shows and specials including SmackDown, NXT, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Royal Rumble. The streamer will also make WWE documentaries, original series, and forthcoming projects available on demand for viewers outside the US.
A change of
play rings? Is Netflix moving away from traditional content? This isn’t Netflix’s first stab at a livestream project, per Deadline, the company reportedly put in a bid for Formula 1 rights before the auto racing circuit renewed with ESPN in 2022.
While the company hopes the deal will bring in millions of loyal WWE viewers and strengthen its nascent fledgling advertising-supported plan, the deal also potentially increases watch time and platform usage as live events create a sense of urgency and real-time engagement when compared to on-demand content.
It remains to be seen if the pivot in content strategy becomes successful.
Meanwhile, the Netflix deal served a blow to Comcast—which owns a 30% stake in MultiChoice Showmax. Upon expiration of its contract with Netflix, Comcast which previously paid about $265 million a year for the rights to Raw, acquired the rights to Smackdown, which it considered as the next-best package, for about $287 million a year.
This also mildly translates to a loss to MultiChoice who resorted to a last-minute deal with Togo-based broadcaster NewWorld TV for the broadcasting rights of the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament.
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Valu, Bosta, and PayTabs Egypt partner to launch first-ever IOD feature
Egypt already has a thriving e-commerce space that leads North Africa, does it need another e-commerce partnership?
These three companies seem to think so. Fintech Valu is joining logistics company Bosta and payment gateway PayTabs to launch Egypt’s first instalment-on-delivery (IOD) feature for online purchases.
Side bar: If you’re wondering what IOD means, it’s a step away from buy-now-pay-later that applies to products or services where delivery or completion can be divided into different stages. For example, if you wanted a piece of furniture, instead of paying the full amount, you’d pay first for the materials, then for the basic structure, and then for the finishing.
It’s not a particularly common service because it can’t be applied to all services, but these three industry leaders want online shopping to be more accessible for 72.2% of Egypt’s population with internet access.
Smoother purchases, higher sales: Having served over 2,200 businesses in 2021, Bosta will roll out free instalments for customers, with the convenience of paying on delivery, positioning Bosta as the first shipping company in Egypt to offer such a service. While Valu’s 500,000+ consumers will be provided with convenient instalment plans ranging from one to sixty months, PayTabs will ensure a smooth experience for both businesses and consumers.
Zoom out: Egypt’s e-commerce sector is a thriving powerhouse. With over 103 million residents and 72.2% with access to internet, the IOD feature caters to a massive potential customer base. Furthermore, Egypt dominates 80% of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s e-commerce market and is reportedly growing at a steady 25% annually. Will an IOD option boost its economy even more?
Samsung fights Apple for new blood sugar monitor
There’s a new tech war to find out how to detect health issues without breaking skin, and Samsung just might be in the lead.
The big tech company is exploring the possibilities of non-invasive glucose and blood pressure monitoring.
What does that mean? In simple terms, they’re working on ways to check your blood sugar without the traditional method of pricking your finger.
Via sensors it hopes to perfect in the next five years, Samsung wants you to have a complete picture of your well-being. The company is currently exploring a range of different sensors for future versions of its earbuds that would let it capture data on body temperature and heart rates. Samsung found in its new study that data from the ear could be combined with the wrist could paint a better picture of a user’s health. Don;t get too excited though, there’s no release date for the feature yet.
Samsung is also introducing a Galaxy ring before the end of the year that will serve as an alternative to the Galaxy watches. The patent filed by Samsung in February suggests that the Galaxy Ring is intended to track, measure, monitor, and upload health, fitness, and sleep-related information.
Apple is in the ring too: Samsung is not the only one building this cool tech. Later this year, Apple will add hypertension detection to its smartwatch. Apple wants to provide users with not just exact readings of their blood pressure but also inform them when they have elevated blood pressure. In the future, these tech giants hope to give you real-time data of your blood pressure and blood sugar level
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Bitcoin is down bad, but not in the way you’re going to be on February 14. In more serious news, the cryptocurrency fell past the $40,000 price it’s been maintaining all year. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen bitcoin this down; in fact, it’s better than January 2023’s $20,000 price.
The price isn’t so disappointing as analysts had predicted that the US approval of bitcoin ETFs would see a decline in crypto prices in coming weeks. Bitcoin ETFs are basically stock options that allow crypto enthusiasts invest in bitcoin without owning any actual bitcoin. It’s been two weeks since ETFs were approved and firms like BlackRock have already reached $1 billion in investor inflows.
Milk Road, a crypto-focused publication, also argues that prices are down because US stocks are seeing a lot more action than Saltburn at the Oscars.
Meanwhile, a pastor in Colorado, US, has been arrested for pocketing $1.3 million in a crypto fraud scheme. The Lord apparently told him to do it, CNBC reports. The US SEC is now accusing Eli Delgado of fraud after 300 people invested about $3.2 million in a cryptocurrency, INDXCoin, Delgado and his wife marketed. Per Delgado, “The Lord” had told him a story many have heard before: that the Lord would enrich them if they invested.
Of the $3.2 million invested, $1.3 million went directly into enriching Delgado who claims $500,000 of the money went to taxes, and the rest to home remodelling and other luxuries.
The SEC is now seeking damages for investors and an injunction against Delgado who previously served time for grand theft auto.
- Every year businesses around the world lose billions of dollars to fraud. But there’s good news: the tide is turning. Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a powerful weapon in the fight against fraud. Learn how to combat fraud with AI through this free online event. Register here.
- Applications are open for the Lagos Innovates x Firstfounders Idea Hub 8.0! a springboard to build a competitive, profitable and game-changing startup. There will be 8 weeks of transformative mentorship, tried-and-tested growth templates, exceptional masterclasses and unparalleled networking opportunities. Apply here.
Goethe Institute Studio Quantum has opened applications for its new residency programme in Germany for artists from Nigeria. Throughout the residency, artists will receive invitations to travel to various locations, where they can integrate quantum technologies into the thematic content of their work. These artists are encouraged to create pieces utilising quantum technologies accessed through the cloud. Apply by February 11.
- Gen F, an initiative facilitated by Founders Factory is set to invest in startups from Africa through its Entrepreneur in Residence program. Selected startups will receive a $250,000 seed funding injection upon successful pitching. Apply here.
What else is happening in tech?
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