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Standard Bank Buys 35% Equity in SA Fintech Firm

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Standard Bank Buys 35% Equity in SA Fintech Firm, SiliconNigeria

Standard Bank has acquired a 35 per cent equity stake in digital escrow company TradeSafe Escrow for an undisclosed amount.

Established in 2013, TradeSafe describes itself as an online escrow platform that safeguards the buyer’s funds in trust until the seller delivers to the buyer what was promised. The funds are only released to the seller, and other approved beneficiaries, once the buyer receives the goods or services in the agreed condition.

TradeSafe CEO Jethro O’Brien says: “Both TradeSafe and Standard Bank realised the necessity for a fast, secure and affordable escrow solution in the wake of the increasing volume of scams, fraud and unpaid invoice payments in South African commerce. Our fees come in at a fifth of what a reputable law firm or bank would charge in a transaction.”

 According to a statement, as part of the investment, Standard Bank has appointed two non-executive directors to the TradeSafe board. Furthermore, the bank also has management oversight of TradeSafe’s escrow account and is fully involved in the process for payment instructions that TradeSafe initiates.

O’Brien adds: “The bank will provide a second release payment function. This means that with our increased governance, security and credibility, TradeSafe will now be able to target commodity and M&A transactions greater than R25 million.”

The statement notes that TradeSafe has recently overhauled its platform, adding its API [application programming interface] offering also incorporates new payment gateways such as SnapScan and Ozow. “We also employed Standard Bank’s proprietary host-to-host technology, which allows for automated payments,” says O’Brien.

Kuben Chetty, head of client solutions at Standard Bank, expressed the strong need for a digital escrow solution within SA, given the rise of digital transactions and especially as buyers and sellers seek ways to mitigate transaction fraud.

“Standard Bank is very excited with its investment in TradeSafe Escrow and this provides both parties the opportunity to explore ways to leverage each other’s capabilities to help their clients transact securely.”

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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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Southern Africa

IFC Invests in Fintech Adumo to Boost Digital Payment Solutions in Africa

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IFC Invests in Fintech Adumo to Boost Digital Payment Solutions in Africa, SiliconNigeria

 IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund, are helping to increase access to digital payment solutions for small and medium-sized businesses in several countries in Africa through an investment in South Africa-based fintech group Adumo. 

IFC’s investments will support Adumo to make digital payment systems more affordable and accessible to smaller businesses in Africa, many of which currently rely on cash transactions. Adumo, South Africa’s largest independent payment provider with a presence in 14 other African countries, owns merchant acquirers Sureswipe and Ikhokha and payment processor Innervation Pan African Payments.

“The pandemic and associated impact on consumers and businesses are transforming the face of the payments industry with interest in cashless payment services at an all-time high. The funds we have raised from our new equity partners will help us roll out new payment innovations and purpose-based lending services to support consumers and retailers as they navigate an uncertain 2021,” said Paul Kent, CEO at Adumo.

The investment by IFC and the IFC Financial Institutions Growth Fund, a fund managed by IFC’s Asset Management Company, consists of up to $15 million in preferred shares to fund the growth of the company. IFC combines investments and advisory services to help financial intermediaries reach more small businesses in Africa and other emerging markets.

“Through this investment in Adumo, we will be helping small businesses tap into the digital economy, which is more important now than ever before. Digital payments are often the first step for a small business to build a credit history, which opens the way to access further financial services such as financing to grow the business,” said Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s Vice President for the Middle East and Africa. “Supporting small businesses to access finance and financial services affordably and sustainably is a priority for IFC because of their potential to not only grow the economy but also create jobs.”

In South Africa, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises employ over 50 percent of the work force and contribute around 34 percent of GDP, but many don’t have access to key services that would help their business grow. Digital and mobile payment solutions can help businesses increase footfall and improve customer retention by supporting the transition away from cash-based transactions.

Adumo, previously known as Crossfin Transactional Solutions, processes more than $5 billion in transactions annually through more than 30,000 active clients and across 50,000 active card machines.

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