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Standard Bank Buys 35% Equity in SA Fintech Firm



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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East Africa

Cassava Fintech Int’l, LTG to Accelerate Digital Finance in Africa



Cassava Fintech Int’l LTG to Accelerate Digital Finance in Africa, SiliconNigeria
  • launch of Sasai Wi-Fi Finder

Cassava Fintech International (CFI) and the Liquid Telecom Group (LTG) have announced the launch of Sasai Wi-Fi Finder, a potential game-changer in driving digital and financial inclusion in Africa.

The service, which will be offered across the continent, was announced today, and is set to be rolled at thousands of hotspots across Africa.   

A 2019 report by the GSMA (the Global System for Mobile Communications) shows that affordability remains a significant barrier to Internet adoption in Africa, resulting in social, digital and financial exclusion. This partnership seeks to offer a low-cost solution for connectivity and to expand these services throughout the continent.

 “We see this launch as a critical piece in the social digital inclusion agenda we are driving on the continent,” said Darlington Mandivenga, the Chief Executive Officer of the CFI Group. “Through Sasai Wi-Fi Finder, we plan to establish an expansive network of data access points across Africa and build ‘Africa’s Missing Network’ through partnering with broadband providers, Internet Service Providers and local community hubs,” Mandivenga said.  

“We’re proud that our best-in-class broadband infrastructure network is the backbone of this service and is enabling more Africans to access the digital and financial benefits of the internet,” said Ahmad Mokhles, Group Chief Operating Officer of LTG.

“This partnership is providing consumers with affordable Wi-Fi access while local franchisees and partners are able to grow their businesses and the economies of their countries. This is a true example of the transformative power technology can have across the value chain,” said Mokhles.

 The intuitive and easy to use Sasai Wi-Fi Finder will be an in-App feature on the Sasai super App that will allow users to identify hotspots at which they can access affordable data.   

“We designed this service to be as easy-to-use as possible. A smartphone user will get free connectivity on-the-go through accessing the #SasaiWi-Fi Finder network to download the Sasai App and gain access to a wide range of in-app services,” said Tapera Mushoriwa, Chief Operating Officer of Sasai.  

“When a new smartphone user has registered on the Sasai App, or when an existing Sasai App user opens the App, they receive automatic notification “pop-up” alerts showing available #SasaiWi-Fi Finder hotspots nearby. They also receive additional services, such as distinct indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspot markers, directions to Wi-Fi hotspots, session usage, range and signal strength details – making it easier than ever before for African users to access the Internet,” Mushoriwa said. 

The Sasai Wi-Fi Finder will allow greater connectivity in a variety of locations, including retail, health care, education, government and small business trade facilities. The App will also give millions of Africans access to social, entertainment and on-demand services offered on the Sasai super App, including Sasai Moments. 

The partnership between CFI and LTG will see the roll-out of the Sasai Wi-Fi Finder in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa in phases over the coming months. The Sasai Wi-Fi Finder is accessible and available by downloading the Sasai super App from the Google Play store or the Apple Appstore.

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East Africa

Airtel Africa, Mukuru to Facilitate Cross-border Money Transfers



Airtel Africa Mukuru to Facilitate Cross-border Money Transfers, SiliconNigeria

Airtel Africa Plc and Mukuru, one of Africa’s largest remittance organisations, yesterday announced a partnership which will enable Mukuru customers to instantly send cross-border transfers directly to Airtel Money customer wallets in 12 African countries.

This partnership will be particularly beneficial for customers making intra-Africa payments from Southern Africa where Mukuru has a leading presence.

Customers also benefit from no longer having to physically go to an Agent to receive cross-border payments. Once Airtel Money customers receive the funds, they can be used to pay utility bills, goods and services, transferred to family or can be cashed out at any of Airtel Africa’s exclusive branches, kiosks and agents.

The CEO, Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava, said “This partnership empowers those without a bank account to be included in the formal financial ecosystem and to move money conveniently, seamlessly and securely.” 

He stated that at a time when intra-Africa cross-border payments are of strategic importance, we are pleased to be working together on cross-country mobile money transfers, while also supporting local economies.

Also, the CEO, Mukuru, Andy Jury, confirmed, “This partnership exemplifies the collaborative spirit in which Mukuru is engaging with other industry leaders to provide universal access to cash and digital financial services across the continent.”

According to him, the enablement of digital money transfers between Mukuru and Airtel Africa customers means we can offer greater choice to the hard-working diaspora when providing for their families back home. The freedom to choose the solution best befitting your personal circumstances is pivotal to true economic empowerment.

The partnership, subject to local regulatory approvals, will initially launch in Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It will then roll out to subsequent Airtel Money markets. 

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Global News

South Africa Growth Pushes Vodacom Group Revenue Up 5.6%



South Africa Growth Pushes Vodacom Group Revenue Up 5.6%, SiliconNigeria

Vodacom Group revenue increased by 5.6 percent to ZAR 22.73 billion in the first quarter to 30 June.

The mobile operator said it saw strong growth in South Africa as customer demand rose during the lockdown, but international operations were hit by lower economic activity because of Covid-19.

Service revenue climbed 7.6 percent to ZAR 18.76 billion. The temporary spectrum assignment in South Africa allowed Vodacom to fast-track the launch of the country’s first mobile 5G network and a fixed 5G commercial service.  

International service revenue grew by 10.7 percent, benefiting from the rand devaluation. Underlying performance was subdued with a 5.3 percent decline, as a result of lower economic trading activity, free M-Pesa services and customer registration requirements in these businesses.

Normalised international service revenue shrank by 5.3 percent as coronavirus reduced economic activity, with lower pricing for M-Pesa transactions in some operations to enable social distancing, and the barring of service to 2.9 million customers in Tanzania in Q4 of the prior year. Customers increased 7.1 percent compared with the prior year to 37.7 million, with a net loss in the quarter of 919,000, primarily in Tanzania. Vodacom deleted a number of customers in this quarter who had been inactive since barring services in Q4, in line with its 90-day churn policy.

While underlying growth in international voice revenue was down 11.7 percent during the first quarter, data customers increased 5.2 percent to 20.0 million, with data traffic rising 44.3 percent driven, by the need to work from home, and substitution of data over voice during lockdowns in the DRC, Mozambique and Lesotho. Usage per customer increased on average by 32.5 percent.

International M-Pesa revenue was up 17.0 percent and customers increased 3.5 percent to 14.7 million. Revenue was hit by discounted and free person-to-person (P2P) services in most markets. Movement restrictions in several of markets have also seen trade reduced, which resulted in the value and number of transactions decreasing in the quarter.

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