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Cybersecurity

Nigeria to tackle POS fraud

Last week, financial institutions sought regulatory approval to launch their fraud-fighting mission. That mission will see two areas receive special focus: Bureau de Change operators and banking agents often serving as fraudsters’ cash-out channels.

This week, the county’s apex bank is taking it a step further. In a collaborative effort to combat fraud, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Nigerian Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), has teamed up with the Association of Mobile Money and Banking Agents of Nigeria (AMMBAN) to implement a new security feature on Point of Sale (PoS) terminals. This feature will alert agents to potentially fraudulent transactions and prompt them to collect specific Know-Your-Customer (KYC) information before proceeding. If your PoS transaction is flagged, you basically have to verify your identity. 

Why? Reports show that in Q1 2023, Nigerian banks lost ₦472 million ($562,491) to POS and mobile fraud. BY Q2 2023, the number quadrupled with over 10,098 fraud cases worth ₦1.95 billion ($2 million) reported. Last year, Nigeria had several cash shortages that sent people running from banks to PoS agents who are available on almost every street. 

Per NIBSS, in March 2023, there were 1.8 million deployed PoS terminals in the country and the value of transactions over PoS terminals jumped to ₦1.1 trillion ($1.1 billion) compared to the ₦718.5 billion ($756 million) recorded in the same month in 2022. 

The fight against fraud isn’t a solo act: The Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), is the tech muscle behind the new PoS feature which is set for a Q1 launch. 

The Nigerian police and the Department of State Services (DSS), are also working alongside NIBSS and the association of banking agents in Nigeria to track fraudsters at agent locations. There are also hopes to mandate a common identification system for the over 1.7 million banking agents on the AMMBAN database.

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Telecom

MTN invests $215 million in Benin

Africa’s telecom giant, MTN Group, has pledged a $215 million investment in Benin over the next three years.

What’s the investment for? The investment will first see the MTN Benin subsidiary which has been in business for 25 years get a brand-new office. MTN Group has successfully tested its 5G services in Benin and sees potential in the country. The investment is a strategic move to leverage this opportunity for mutual benefit between the telecom and the host country. 

Additionally, MTN will partner with the government and other stakeholders, to invest in education and skills development for the youths.

The announcement was made during a visit to Cotonou by an MTN Group delegation, led by President and CEO Ralph Mupita, in a meeting with Benin’s President, Patrice Talon. 

MTN has also made similar investments in Nigeria and Cameroon. In July 2023, the telco revealed a $3.5 billion investment plan for Nigeria’s economy over the next five years. In Cameroon, the group invested $225 million, over three years, to strengthen its operations in the country. 

Zoom out: MTN recently revealed its planned exit from three smaller markets—Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry—in November 2023, with their 1.6% revenue contribution and subscriber counts below 10 million. Benin, a country with just 8 million subscribers is getting a royal treatment from MTN. Numbers tell one story, but Benin’s got something else going on—and it’s worth $215 million.

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Economy

Nigeria makes new $500 million injection to clear FX backlog

Nigeria’s Central Bank yesterday pumped $500 million to partially clear an FX backlog that has continued to pressure the country’s currency. 

The fresh cash injection is coming as the naira hits a new low of ₦1,421 per dollar on the official market this week. Lagos-based investment bank Chapel Hill Denham also estimates the country’s dollar liquidity at $100.97 million, indicating a 20% shortage. Despite a devaluation last year and a decision to float the Naira, the currency has witnessed even more volatility as the CBN tries to clear a backlog thought to be around $5 billion to $7 billion.

This week’s sharp plunge has been the subject of social media frenzy, and many commentators have criticised the apex bank for a lack of clarity around policy and a seeming lack of urgency.

Why it matters: The persistent currency depreciation as a result of the backlog fuels inflation and stifles the purchasing power of the everyday Nigerian as prices of electronics, food prices and other necessities are on a steady increase. A used iPhone XR that used to be about ₦150,000 ($167) in 2023 has doubled in price. Similarly, a carton of noodles which cost ₦4,500 ($4.73) in 202 now costs ₦7,000 ($7).

Zoom out: Last week, Wale Edun, the minister of finance, shared plans to get a $1.5 billion loan facility from the World Bank and possibly tap the Eurobond market, but a continued dollar shortage in the short term has left the market unimpressed.

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Funding

Apollo receives $10 million funding

Agriculture plays an important role in Kenya’s economy, it, after all, contributes 33% to Kenya’s GDP. And it looks like investors are taking notes. In the last six months of 2023, seven Kenyan agritechs raised a combined $68.3 million. 

Now, Apollo Agriculture, which offers financing to smallholder farmers, has raised an additional $10 million to fund its expansion plan across the continent. The latest round, supported by SwedFund and Impact Connect, comes two years after the startup secured a $40 million Series B round. 

Apollo says it currently serves over 350,000 farmers in Kenya and Zambia. This new funding, according to CEO Eli Pollack, unlocks Apollo’s potential to reach 400,000 additional farmers.

Zoom out: African startups raised a combined $3.2 billion in 2023, but only $180 million went to Agri-tech startup on the continent, a decline from the $240 million raised in 2022. 

Despite this dip, Kenya remains a magnet for agritech capital, as evidenced by Twiga Foods and Apollo’s $80 million and $40 million funding between 2019 and 2022.

Crypto Tracker

The World Wide Web3

Source:

OneLiquidity  logo

Coin Name

Current Value

Day

Month

Bitcoin $42,950

– 1.40%

+ 2.76%

Ether $2,341

+ 1.12%

+ 0.94%

Manta Network

$3.34

– 9.81%

+ 47.11%

Solana $99.87

– 3.54%

– 3.78%

* Data as of 04:25 AM WAT, January 31, 2024.

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Opportunities

  • 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.

Written by: Faith Omoniyi & Mariam Muhammad

Edited by: Timi Odueso

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