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Fidelity Bank reinstates neobanks
GIF source: Tenor
Nigerian commercial bank, Fidelity Bank, has quashed its qualms with neobanks.
Last Friday, sources confirmed that the bank reinstated customer transfers to OPay, Moniepoint, Palmpay and Kuda.
ICYMI: This comes a week after customers noticed that several neobanks were no longer listed on the list of approved financial institutions in the Fidelity Bank app. While Fidelity, at the time, claimed that the removal was due to ongoing upgrades, other sources stated that it was due to KYC violations from the neobanks.
Last week, sources at the neobanks said that they had been in contact with the commercial bank to resolve all concerns. However, the reinstatement was also due to one regulator, the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), expressing displeasure at Fidelity’s move.
The big picture: All through October, the Nigerian tech ecosystem has been battling KYC issues with neobanks. Earlier in the month, OPay was accused of opening accounts for users without permission. The neobank denied the charge, stating that all existing accounts were either created on OPay or any of its now-defunct verticals including OKash, ORide and OFood. This explanation, however, isn’t stopping Nigeria’s data protection bulldog, the NDPC, which has launched an investigation into the neobank.
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Kenyan drivers don’t want Bolt and Uber reinstated yet
Image source: YungNollywood
Drivers of ride-hailing platforms in Kenya are taking advantage of the situation.
On Saturday, the drivers urged the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) not to renew the licences of ride-hailing platforms Bolt and Uber until the companies act on submitted complaints.
The rearview mirror: Earlier this month, the NTSA declined Bolt and Uber’s requests to renew their operating licences. According to the regulator, the ride-hailing platforms were charging illegal booking fees and higher commission rates than the NTSA benchmark allows. While the companies have stated that the booking fees are used to cover taxes and “support or technological features”—in Bolt’s case—the regulator is still not satisfied.
The drivers of the platforms are now urging the regulator to ensure that the companies are complying with all requirements of the Transport Network Companies, Drivers, Passengers and Vehicle Owners Regulations, 2022 before they are reinstated. This includes:
- The requirement that Bolt be registered as a corporate company in Kenya.
- The removal of the “illegal” 11% and 5% additional fees Uber and Bolt—respectively—charge drivers.
- Verification of every passenger that registers on the companies’ apps.
- Fair hearing and institution of notice periods for the removal, deactivation or suspension of drivers.
The drivers have given the NTSA seven days to ensure that the companies comply with all regulations, or face a nationwide strike.
A steep ride: We don’t think the strike will be effective. So far, these ride-hailing companies have not taken driver complaints as seriously as they probably should.
Across the continent, drivers in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and even Tanzania are either striking or have gone on strikes for conditions that are still unfulfilled—or partially fulfilled. Whether it’s a demand for a reduction in commission rates or more safety measures, Bolt and Uber have always given the same response; they consider these drivers as contractors and not employees and are not necessarily responsible for their welfare or their actions.
Also, these companies don’t joke with their commissions. In 2022, when Tanzania enforced a maximum commission rate of 15% for all ride-hailing platforms, Uber promptly suspended its operations in the country while Bolt bolted to its corporate clients. Less than a year later, the country reinstated a 25% commission rate that brought Uber and Bolt speeding back.
While Kenya admittedly has a larger market than Tanzania and is taking a stronger stance with international trade, it remains to be seen how the country will respond to these new demands.
Airbnb launches $500,000 fund to support tourism
Image source: AptanTech
We may be getting new tourism hotspots soon.
Last week, at the Africa Travel Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, international marketplace Airbnb launched a $500,000 fund geared towards supporting tourism in Africa.
Per Velma Corcoran, the company’s regional lead for MEA, the fund will be used to help governments, entrepreneurs and tourism organisations identify and unlock new tourism opportunities across different communities in Africa. The funds will also be dispersed via awards and grants given to local stakeholders.
The company will also give access to the City Portal to 10 more African countries, including South Africa. This portal is a new tool for local governments and tourism organisations to learn about Airbnb in their communities and find ways to boost tourism.
More for entrepreneurs: Airbnb is also expanding its Entrepreneurship Academy to five new countries in the next two years, following its success in South Africa and Kenya. The Academy is a skills development programme that helps people from diverse and underrepresented communities learn how to become successful Airbnb hosts, in partnership with local organisations.
Zoom out: Tourism has been down since 2019 when it made up 6.6% of the continent’s GDP—about $169 million, but there is some hope in the sector. Some reports project that consumer spending on tourism, hospitality, and recreation in Africa is projected to reach about $261.77 billion by 2030. To reach this potential though, Africa has a lot of work from cross-border regulations and travel restrictions on the government’s end, to infrastructural issues and marke
The evolution of agency banking in Africa
In this longform Decode Fintech piece, Paystack explores agent networks in Africa, how they converge with SMEs, and what the future of agency banking means for how money moves across the continent.
Read the blogpost.
Social commerce to reach $41.9 billion by 2028
Social commerce is taking Africa by storm, with a projected growth rate of 55.2% between 2022 and 2028.
Side bar: Social commerce is the use of social media platforms to buy and sell goods and services. It’s a hybrid of e-commerce and social media,
This trend is driven by the increasing use of social media platforms for business purposes, with 67% of small and medium enterprises in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa utilising social media for their business as of 2023.
Image source: Future of Commerce 2024 Trends Report by TC Insights
A growing market: The rise of social commerce is also reflected in the increasing value of the industry, which is projected to reach $41.9 billion in Africa and the Middle East by 2028. This growth is driven by the increasing adoption of digital payments and logistics solutions, which are making it easier for businesses to sell their products and services online. While many Africans don’t have access to traditional e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, they do have access to social media platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp. This makes social commerce a much more accessible way to shop online.
In addition to these macro trends, several key social commerce trends are shaping the industry in Africa. These include the increasing use of chat banking, which allows customers to make payments and access financial services through messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Another trend is the rise of online marketplaces, which are making it easier for small businesses to reach a wider audience and sell their products online.
Overall, social commerce is a dynamic and rapidly evolving industry in Africa, with significant growth potential in the coming years. As more businesses adopt digital solutions and more consumers become comfortable with online shopping, the social commerce industry is poised for continued growth and innovation.
If you’d like to get more insights into the future of commerce in Africa, download our Trends Report for free here.
The World Wide Web3
* Data as of 12:40 PM WAT, October 29, 2023.
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Bitnob has become the first African company to integrate Universal Money Address (UMA). Techweez reports that the Nigeria-based crypto company, last week, integrated the open source global system which facilitates 24/7 transactions in any fiat or cryptocurrency using one’s preferred wallet, exchange, or bank.
Sam-Bankman Fried, founder of now-defunct crypto company FTX, has admitted to making “mistakes” but denies allegations of fraud. Last Friday, as the founder took the stand and testified at his trial, he admitted to making errors such as not having a risk management team in place. In the six-hour—yes, six hours of testimony—Bankman-Fried also shifted the blame of the crash to Caroline Ellison, the ex-CEO of his crypto-focused hedge fund Alameda Research; he stated that he had little-to-no information on the relationship between FTX and Alameda Research. So far, the founder has pleaded not guilty to several counts of conspiracy and fraud which could lead him to face decades behind bars.
- DICE is holding the next edition of its quarterly gathering. This edition is themed “Solve for Africa: Co-Creating a Tech-Enabled Future” and will feature startup founders, investors, venture capitalists and tech leaders answering questions on how tech can be harnessed as a catalyst for change in Africa. Join Jim Ovia, chairman of Zenith Bank, Bosun Tijani, Nigerian minister of comms, and Funke Opeke, founder of Mainstreet Technologies amongst others by 6 PM on November 8, 2023, as they co-create a shared future. Register to attend here.
- Interested in discovering how tech is driving Africa’s economic boom? Then the 2023 Africa Tech Festival is for you. With over 200+ speakers including South Africa’s minister of mineral resources Gwede Mantashe, the event is set for November 13–16, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa. Tickets are available here, and you can get 15% off paid passes with the code “TECHCABAL15”.
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