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Facebook rebrands digital wallet to escape Libra

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, SiliconNigeria

Facebook revamped its Calibra digital wallet, rebranding the service to Novi, in an apparent attempt to differentiate the platform from its Libra cryptocurrency project.

, SiliconNigeria

In a blog post, David Marcus, head of Facebook’s digital wallet play, said the rebranded Novi wallet would also gain a new logo, which includes a Libra icon, “to underscore our commitment to the Libra network”.

, SiliconNigeria

The move comes a month after Facebook moved to reposition the Libra cryptocurrency project, scaling back its initial vision to make it run more akin to a traditional digital payments platform, to appease regulators.

The company first unveiled Libra and the Libra Association, the group designed to operate the Libra cryptocurrency, in June 2019.

As part of the initial vision, Facebook and its partners aimed to develop new digital currencies, operated on the Calibra payments wallet, powered through blockchain technology. However, the project came under fire from regulators in the Europe and the US, which led to several high profile backers, including Vodafone Group, pulling out.

By rebranding Calibra to Novi, it appears Facebook is now attempting to make it clear that Libra is a separate entity from its digital wallet.

Marcus added Novi will operate as a standalone app, as well as on its Messenger and WhatsApp platforms, with no remittance costs and instant transfers.

It will be operated by Novi Financial, a Facebook subsidiary that operates independently from Facebook.

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Africa Region

Network International Taps Hany Fekry to Head Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa

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Network International Taps Hany Fekry to Head Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, SiliconNigeria

Network International, the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), has announced the appointment of Egyptian national Hany Fekry as Regional President – Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In his new role, Hany will be responsible for all aspects of Network’s acquiring and issuing business in Egypt and Nigeria, and for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to drive Network’s business growth and increase digital payments adoption in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hany joined Network in 2016 as Managing Director for Egypt and and Deputy Managing Director for Africa, leading the company’s business development activities across the Northern and Sub-Saharan region. Previously, he served as the Chief Commercial Officer of Emerging Markets Payments (EMP) Africa, which was acquired by Network International in 2016. Hany’s more than 20-year career has included developing business in markets including Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nandan Mer, Group CEO of Network International, commented: “Building an effective payments infrastructure requires a thorough understanding of the needs of local merchant and issuer clients to address their pain points and build locally relevant payments solutions.

Since joining the team in 2016, Hany’s deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges in digital payments adoption across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa has been instrumental in helping Network deliver customised and relevant solutions. I am confident he is the right person to strengthen our offering to clients, in addition to driving greater inclusion and building a stronger payments infrastructure in these fast-growing markets.”

Hany Fekry, Regional President – Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, added: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Network, with tremendous opportunities to accelerate the positive trends in digital payments across the region and increase financial inclusions. I look forward to helping build a best-in-class payment ecosystem that will support local merchants and financial institutions, and positively impact the economies across the Northern and Sub-Saharan African markets.”

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Digital Economy

Liquid Intelligent Accelerates Digital Economy in South Africa

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Liquid Intelligent Accelerates Digital Economy in South Africa, SiliconNigeria

 Liquid Intelligent Technologies (Liquid) South Africa, part of the leading pan-African technology group Liquid Intelligent Technology today, announces the successful completion of two key digital corridors – NLD5 and NLD6 connecting Durban to Cape Town via the inland route.

The completion of this fibre network will support the surging demand for high-speed internet as an increasing number of local businesses continue their digital transformation journeys. 

Increased access to high-speed fibre connectivity is critical to improving not just telecommunication services for millions of South Africans in the country. It will also bring substantial social and economic benefits to businesses and governments as the focus on the Fourth Industrial revolution increases.  This route forms part of the Southern corridor that Liquid has invested in connecting East to West Africa via a terrestrial network.

“The completion of these two digital corridors is yet another milestone achieved as part of our on-going investment into the South African economy. Liquid has been instrumental in the fruition of routes 1 through to 8, providing a digital backbone that connects metropolitan cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to more remote areas like Nelspruit Bloemfontein, Lady Smith, Mthatha.

“This is also part of our Group’s continued focus on bringing world-class digital services like Cloud, Unified Communications,  Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to local businesses in the public and private sectors,” said Deon Geyser, CEO Liquid Intelligent Technologies, South Africa.

Spanning over 1700 km, the near-unlimited capacity and greater redundancy offered on these digital corridors will positively impact numerous industries, especially educators and healthcare practitioners, as they increase their reach to the remotest parts of the country. Access to improved digital services will also impact the education system in the country as the government gears to empower more youth with digital skills as newer vocations develop through the 4IR. 

These routes symbolise Liquid’s high-level digital infrastructure capability and continued and unwavering commitment to steer and create sector growth opportunities aggressively whilst increasing its market share.

Liquid recently culminated its extensive business transformation from being a telecommunications and digital services provider to a full one-stop-shop technology group. This expansion is one more step that reiterates Liquid’s commitment towards improving customer service and delivery of products towards the wholesale, enterprise, and SMEs market in the country.

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Facebook Rolls Out Instagram Lite to Sub-Saharan Africa and Other Emerging Markets

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Facebook Rolls Out Instagram Lite to Sub-Saharan Africa and Other Emerging Markets, SiliconNigeria

Facebook has announced the launch of Instagram Lite to Sub-Saharan Africa, a new, lightweight version of the Instagram app for Android that uses less data and works well across all network conditions.

The new version of Instagram Lite for Android is less than 2MB in size, making it fast to install and quick to load. It also has improved speed, performance, and responsiveness. Instagram Lite not only works similarly to the Instagram app for Android, but it allows the Instagram experience to remain fast and reliable for more people, no matter what device, platform and network they use. 

Commenting on the rationale for introducing the app to Sub-Saharan Africa, Engineering Manager for Instagram Lite, Peter Shin said, “Connectivity in the region can be unstable, slow and expensive, making it challenging for people to have a high-quality Instagram experience. Many people were already familiar with the concept of a Lite app after the successful roll-out of Facebook Lite some years ago. We started testing the new version of Instagram Lite when people across the continent started asking for a Lite app for Android. The feedback was very positive and we are excited to launch it across the continent today”. 

“Our team aims to leave no one behind, so today we are very excited to bring Instagram Lite to people in over 170 countries, including the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region,” he added.

Instagram Lite is similar to the core Instagram app experience, though some features are not currently supported, such as Reels creation, Shopping, and IGTV. Instagram Lite is likely to gain appeal to users in locations with limited bandwidth or high data costs, especially in the developing world. 

Instagram Lite is currently rolling out in over 170 countries, and Facebook remains committed to building and improving the app to help everyone in the world connect to the people and things they love. 

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