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Paylater Lending app Eyes Full-Service Digital Bank

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Paylater, Nigerian retail lending startup, is working on a plan to transition to a full service digital bank after securing a $5 million debt facility from Nairobi-based Lendable, technology-enabled funding provider to African consumer and small business lenders.

 

qz.com reported that Paylater is looking to deploy new products while transitioning to a digital bank.

 

Since launching in 2016, the Paylater mobile app was downloaded by over 1 million users and disbursed loans of over N13 billion ($36 million).

 

But now, the company is looking to get into the unbanked population of Nigeria and provide banking services for them.

 

The startup will be announcing a name change to fit its new business in the first week in April.

 

In Nigeria, there is an estimated 60% of adults without a bank account. Nigeria and six other countries are home to nearly half of the 1.7 billion people without bank accounts, according to the World Bank Global Findex Database report.

 

Paylater is a unit of OneFi which started in 2011 as One Credit, which provided loans to middle class salary earners, using a paper-based application process that required supporting documentation.

 

But that restricted the scope of the service in a country where more than 60% of working adults are in the informal sector and therefore are not paid documented monthly salaries or possessed formal documentation.

 

The introduction of a bank verification number (BVN) by Nigeria’s central bank in 2016 enabled young companies like One Credit to launch more flexible, digital lending services available to more people including Paylater.

 

The BVN is the first true record of Nigerians employing biometric security and linking all back accounts owned by a single user.

 

“As we are pushing on with our web and digital platforms, we also want to reach out to a segment in the economy that is always talked about but not really catered to,” said Chijoke Dozie, who co-founded OneFi with his brother Ngozi.

 

In a few months, OneFi will also be launching some of its services deploying USSD mobile technology found in simple feature phones rather than the more expensive smartphones.

 

The idea is to “onboard people that are not using smartphones and we are banking on our reputation as loan providers to reach them.”

 

The strides that digital lenders have made have made traditional banks offer retail loans to customers. But in the past, this was not the case. Banks in Nigeria have a poor reputation for providing credit. Customers of commercial banks are burdened with paper applications and high interest rates coupled with the need to produce collateral.

 

News of Paylater’s transition to a digital bank comes in the week that Diamond Bank, which was controlled by the Dozie family, is being  merged with Access Bank. Diamond Bank, which was most recently run by another Dozie brother, Uzoma, had struggled over the last couple of years. Last October, the chairman and three directors of the bank resigned following a protracted dispute involving a major investor.

 

OneFi’s Dozie believes that deal with Lendable is international validation of the progress they have made and their preparedness for the next step. This line of financing provides the opportunity to transition into a full-service digital bank. The company will also be announcing a partnership with Visa—a move to provide credit via QR codes in supermarkets and clinics.

 

Daniel Goldfarb, the co founder of Lendable, which is backed by Omidyar Investments, said his company is looking to increase access to finance in frontier markets and wants to do this through non-banking lenders. “Paylater has shown that they know their market intimately, while having impressive tech and a platform that is scalable. We are expecting 75% growth within nine months.”

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Business

Millions Exposed in Facebook Data Protection Failures

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Passwords of millions of Facebook users were accessible by up to 20,000 employees of the social network, it has been reported.

 

Brian Krebs, Security researcher, broke the news about data protection failures, which saw up to 600 million passwords stored in plain text.

 

The passwords that were exposed could date back to 2012, he said.

 

In a statement, Facebook said it had now resolved a “glitch” that had stored the passwords on its internal network.

 

In a detailed expose, Mr Krebs said a Facebook source had told him about “security failures” that had let developers create applications that logged and stored the passwords without encrypting them.

 

Commenting on Mr Krebs’s story Facebook engineer, Scott Renfro said an internal investigation started after Facebook had uncovered the logs had not revealed any “signs of misuse”.

 

In public comments, Facebook said it had discovered the issue in January as part of a routine security review.

 

And its investigation showed that most of the people affected were users of Facebook Lite, which tends to be used in nations where net connections are sparse and slow.

 

“We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users,” the company told Reuters.

 

But it added it would enforce a password re-set only if its taskforce looking into the issue uncovered abuse of the login credentials.

 

The news caps a long period of trouble for Facebook over the way it handles and protects user data.

 

In September last year, it said information on 50 million users had been exposed by a security flaw.

 

And earlier in 2018 it revealed that data on millions of users had been harvested by data science company Cambridge Analytica.

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Konga Rated in Top League of Globally Viable Start-Ups

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E-commerce giant Konga has emerged among an exclusive list of globally viable start-ups and corporate organizations after achieving top scores in a rating by Early Metrics, an European based independent rating agency for start-ups and innovative SMEs.

 

The rating places Konga in a rarefied club of the top 14% of the 2,100 startups rated globally as at March 2019, further justifying the elevated standing of the company as one of the most promising ventures in the Nigerian and African business space.

 

A European-based global rating agency, Early Metrics assesses the growth potential of innovative and early-stage ventures. Their ratings support decision makers such as investors and corporates to identify innovative start-ups worthy of their time and money.

 

Their ratings also help the organizations themselves, as it allows them to critically examine their strengths and weaknesses, gain credibility and give their investors added confidence by being audited by a third party.

 

Konga, acquired by the Zinox Group about 12 months ago, has been undergoing strategic restructuring and expansion to position it as the first and largest Omni – channel e-Commerce group on the African continent.

 

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NITDA says Only 4.7% of Nigerian Govt. Institutions Use IT Effectively

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has criticised government institutions for underutilising enterprise technology saying only 4.7 per cent of federal institutions use IT “in somewhat effective manner”.

In contrast, over 66 per cent of such institutions are at what the agency called “emerging stage” of IT utilisation, maintaining only websites “offering basic information online”.

The agency, which is responsible for formulating and supervising government’s IT policies, bemoans the low compliance with modern technology by government ministries and agencies.

NITDA’s director general, Isa Pantami, however said with the presentation of Nigerian Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) framework to stakeholders yesterday, the agency is setting the tune to changing the current reality.

He sought the support of the stakeholders, arguing that “public institutions for a big critical enterprise that must be managed efficiently to ensure its resources including IT are maximized to create value for stakeholders given the prevailing political, legal and administrative contexts.”

Mr Pantami, who was represented at the event by NITDA’s director of e-Government Development and Regulation, Vincent Olatunji, however, acknowledged improvement in IT systems of some public institutions which, he said, however, come with other challenges.

He listed some of the challenges to include inefficient IT environment, poor interoperability of IT systems, poor information sharing across agencies, maintenance of unnecessary multiple sites and unstandardized communication channels.

Other challenges he outlined are high cost of IT investments and poor sustainability of IT projects by host institutions.

“In addition to the previous challenges mentioned, ICT adoption and implementation in Nigeria naturally faces a lot of challenges ranging from inadequate basic infrastructure such as electricity, broadband and other digital technologies to insufficient human capital and the required skills in the public sector effectively implement and utilise ICT solutions.

“We also have unfriendly and weak institutions; inadequacy of finance for ICT projects as a result of competing demands and inability to properly align government businesses and ICT deployment, among others,” he said.

Mr Pantami said the implication of those challenges on the sector resulted in the inability of public institutions to fully translate national or organisational visions, policies and programmes into effective enterprise change and add value.

“This has prevented IT, to some extent, from becoming an asset shaping strategic future opportunities of public institutions and the government as a whole,” he said.

The official, however, commended ICT adoption as exemplified by the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Government Information Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Bank Verification Number (BVN), e-Taxation, e-Passport and e-Wallet system for farmers.

In his presentation on the draft NGEA document, Soji Adegunwa of Goldberry Systems Ltd said enterprise architecture is a recommended technology system that is being accepted by governments all over the world.

He said the adoption and harmonisation would help the government reduce costs in IT investment, as it cuts multiplicity and allows for collaboration.

He said with common platforms, there will be a reduction of “administrative headache” among agencies.

Mr Adegunwa also allayed fears of government institutions saying the technology is only making things more efficient without “taking powers away.”

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