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IFC, Mastercard Foundation Study Examines Attitudes to Mobile Money in Africa

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Mastercard Foundation have published an ethnographic study on the perceptions and attitudes to digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study will increase financial inclusion by helping financial services providers better understand the user of African digital financial services (DFS).

The report, A Sense of Inclusion: An Ethnographic Study of the Perceptions and Attitudes to Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa, is based on research conducted at the Africa Studies Center Leiden, University of Leiden. The study focuses on four countries of varying degrees of DFS market maturity: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Zambia. It is a knowledge product of the Partnership for Financial inclusion, a $37.4 million joint initiative of IFC and the Mastercard Foundation, to advance financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Lesley Denyes, IFC’s Program Manager for the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, said, “This research really gives a voice to the users of mobile money and agent banking in Africa. It’s based on observation and personal stories rather than aggregated statistics, and gives us a vivid idea of what lies behind the success of digital financial services on the continent and what the current challenges are to further expand financial inclusion.”

Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager at the Mastercard Foundation, said, “We are particularly pleased to see this latest publication from the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, and its focus on clients.

The report seeks to understand the underlying barriers to the use of digital financial services, and the drivers that build client trust in those services. With this deeper understanding, we can give clients voice.”

Since digital financial services were first introduced in Sub-Saharan Africa about ten years ago, the continent has taken a lead in the global evolution of a mass market for affordable, accessible and sustainable financial services for low-income people, rural populations and small-scale entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

There are now over 277 million registered users on the continent, with about 100 million active accounts, almost 60 percent of the global total (GSMA). In countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, the use of digital financial services has led to a near doubling of the financial inclusion rate.

The report provides an in-depth description of what digital financial inclusion means in relation to social and cultural factors. One of the interesting findings relates to how digital payments interact with extended family structures and financial obligations within social networks.

Some DFS users have found, for example, that the immediate accessibility of mobile transactions makes it difficult for them to escape unwanted solicitations for financial aid from distant family members.

“Now, with the development of money transfers, whenever a family member asks for money, you need to make it clear – either you have money or you don’t. You can no longer claim you can’t get it to them because if you say that, the person will answer that you should send it by Wari, Joni-Joni, etc.,” a policeman and DFS service user in Louga, Senegal, told the researchers.

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Oracle Forecasts Big Things for Big Data this Year

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Companies generate massive amounts of data, and this will rise exponentially as new computers and sensors are connected to the system.

This huge amount of data is unusable if companies do not know how to manage it and transform it effectively.

Multinational computer technology corporation Oracle forecasts 2018 will be the year when laggards will finally make the move to cloud, late adopters of big data will see immense benefits straight away, and those using artificial intelligence (AI) will drive the most insights.

Samina Rizwan, Oracle senior director for big data and analytics for Middle East and Africa, says Oracle has been in the business of big data since before it became the buzzword it is today.

She says the conversation around big data should be expanded to include analytics, AI, the Internet of things (IOT) and machine learning (ML), all encapsulated in the cloud.

“In the end, we are talking about a data management cycle, and managing all data – not just packets.”

She notes there is huge curiosity around big data at the moment in the innovative space of technology, although adoption is still new to some businesses.

However, this will change this year, as companies see the benefits and realise they will be left behind if they don’t catch up.

Rizwan pointed to a study by Forrester, which predicts businesses that use AI, big data and IOT to uncover new business insights will take $1.2 trillion per annum from their less informed peers by 2020.

Rizwan says her first prediction for this year is that companies that have not yet implemented a cloud or hybrid solution will soon do so.

“We have seen that 80% of data is moving towards cloud; very soon a lot more of the remaining data will too.

“The advantages that users are telling us about are far outweighing on-site data storage advantages.”

Rizwan says she does not know of any region in the Middle East and Africa that is ignoring cloud.

In a survey of Oracle cloud clients, the company found: “Cloud-mature companies have greater capacity for data analytics.

More than 60% of the cloud-mature group report a greater ability to analyse most types of data, in addition to improved automation and visualisation, based on ML. More than half also point to strong capabilities with non-relational data.”

Rizwan says: “We are seeing fewer and fewer companies deciding to stay on-premises. The CIOs of today are no different from the CIOs from yesterday. They want flexibility, some quick wins along the way, and need to show business value.

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MDXi Emerges Toast of Banks in Data Centre Outsourcing

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MDXi Data Centre, a subsidiary of MainOne Cable Company has become the toast of money deposit banks in the country in outsourcing of their data centre services as directed by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Mr Gbenga Adegbiji, general manager, MDXi Data Centre, said that 70 percent of banks in the country are now hosting their data with his company in line with directive by CBN that Banks should upgrade their data centres to Tier 111.

He explained that MDXi Data Center became toast of Banks because of its standard and processes which is of international standard and has also met CBN standard in certification among others.

“Data hosting has assumed a new dimension with organisation embracing off-site hosting of data whereby data hosting is handled by a hosting company unlike in the past where banks host their without even taking note of what goes on the building next to where the bank is located,” he said.

He disclosed that the MDXI Data Centre followed stringent rules both in the construction and management of the Centre explaining that the Centre operates concurrent maintainability, which means that there is no downtime when maintenance is going on.

Adegbiji while revealing that the data centre was built out of the demand of customers, who were receiving other services from the MainOne cable company, stressed that the investment made on the centre was not a one-off investment.

According to him, the business of data centre survives basically on the provision of the required infrastructure stressing that despite the huge investment made by data centres, Nigeria is still far from building the needed infrastructure.

He said Nigeria needs to move fast in tackling the infrastructure challenges since society has moved into the sphere of technology adding that government also needs to understand the dynamic role of technology in developing the economy.

Adegbiji revealed that the firm had so far invested $35 million out of the planned $40 million, adding that MDXi is the only data centre that guarantees 100 percent power uptime availability.

He said the MDXi, which is West Africa’s premier resilient, vendor-neutral data centre, is also the only data centre with direct connections to four submarine cables within 10km: ACE, WACS, Glo 1, MainOne.

The general manager explained that with its data centre and submarine cable, MainOne operates a central hub, which supports West Africa’s connectivity, cloud and data needs.

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Nigerians Ignore Warnings, Stake N1.3Bn on Bitcoin Weekly

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Nigerians have continued to invest in cryptocurrency, trading up to N1.38 billion across 13 local cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, despite warnings by regulators and legislators.

 

Leadership reported that analysts have urge government to embark on smart regulatory tactic in controlling the surge in the trend.

 

Emeka Okoye, software developer and chief architect at Cymantiks Nigeria Limited,  who spoke with Leadership, urged the government and particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit and Insurance Corporation (NDIC) who have been at the forefront in the fight against cryptocurrency in the country to do a rethink on the way to regulate the use of cryptocurrency

 

Noting that cryptocurrency will not take the place of fiat money, he said the criticism against cryptocurrency will further fuel speculation and encourage its use by outlaws.

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had last week urged governments to look into regulation of cryptocurrencies in the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism.

 

Many countries in recent times are coming up with stronger regulations for the trading of cryptocurrencies. Although the value of Bitcoin which is the most popular and most traded cryptocurrency has been down since December, 2017, interest in the currency is yet to wane in Nigeria.

 

Having seen the highest weekly trading average of N1.94 billion in mid-December last year, weekly average turnover had dropped to N1.299 billion at the end of December before rising to N1.817 billion in January.

 

As at February 12, 2018 which is the latest data on Coin.dance a global cryptocurrency tracking website weekly average of Bitcoin trading on the exchanges in Nigeria was at N1.389 billion. This is asides the investments of Nigerians in other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Billioncoin amongst others.

 

Okoye while advising regulators in the country to adopt “smart regulation” rather than outright ban of cryptocurrency said “it is an attitude of allowing innovation to move forward and let regulation follow because at the end of the day it is about the consumers and not about the players.

 

“If they ban cryptocurrency, it means they are outlawing a tech tool and when you outlaw a tech tool, outlaws will use the tools and when they use them you have no control. People will have to live with the consequences.

 

“Right now we do $4.7 million dollars weekly and we are expecting more. Now we have more exchanges, by count we should have up to 13 crypto exchanges in Nigeria. If you really want to see its implication in Nigeria, think of MMM.

 

“MMM was a pointer that things are not alright. We cannot continue to regulate things. It is not going to work if we keep regulating things to work against the desires of the people. It should be about the people. When you talk of innovative product and services, we cannot use the same tactics we used in the old economy. This is a new economy. The power has gone to the consumer.

 

“The thing is regulators need to think very well before they start banning. First of all do they understand how it works? I can build a crypto exchange and it is not domiciled in Nigeria, they cannot regulate it. Secondly, do they understand that I also have a foreign card and they cannot control what I do with it?” Okoye queried.

 

He however noted that there was no way cryptocurrency will replace fiat money saying it will only complement its use and make it easier to move wealth around at convenience. He also noted that the current trend of speculation driving the value of cryptocurrency is a distraction from the real value.

 

“Speculation of cryptocurrency is a big distraction and it is turning the internet to be an internet of money rather than being an internet of value. This speculation has nothing to do with the value we can derive from it” he stated.

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