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UBA, Ixaris Deliver eCommerce to 10m across Africa



Phillips Oduoza is the GMD/CEO of UBA Group
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United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc yesterday announced a deal with Ixaris and its Nigerian partner Ojapay to deploy a virtual card platform across its twenty African markets.  

UBA will use Ixaris Payment Server to deliver innovative payment options for individuals and corporates.

The e-commerce market in Africa is predicted to reach $75 billion by 2025[1]. However, many consumers and businesses across the continent currently lack a secure, convenient and low-cost means to make purchases online.

To take a share of the market opportunity, UBA selected Ixaris Payments Server to quickly and cost-effectively deploy payments programs based on virtual prepaid cards.

“We have partnered with Ixaris and Ojapay to make this convenient payment option available to customers because virtual cards are not only easy and convenient to use but also protect users against online fraud. They will offer our customers across Africa a new layer protection and security for their online transactions.” said Kennedy Uzoka, deputy managing director and CEO, UBA Africa.  

Complementing its range of physical card products and mobile banking applications, UBA’s new virtual card option will enable more than 10 million customers across twenty African markets to make safe and easy online purchases at any online merchant worldwide.

The new virtual payment card will also enable UBA Corporate Clients to take advantage of the wider range of goods and services available on the Internet, while also enhancing internal controls through full traceability of purchasing and payments activities.

Virtual cards work in the same way as plastic payment cards but are issued in electronic rather than physical form. They have now become the payment instrument of choice for a range of flexible solutions for payments-related problems faced by consumers and corporate organisations in many regions of the world.  

Virtual cards are indistinguishable from physical cards when used for payments and are already accepted at millions of merchants worldwide that accept Visa or MasterCard payments.  

In contrast to plastic, virtual cards can be issued to any connected device instantly and at almost zero cost.

“Virtual cards offer our customers an exciting new option to securely consummate their transactions. As one of Africa’s leading banks, we are proud to offer customers another innovative payment solutions. The changing dynamics of the African banking industry means that we have to constantly seek value-adding partnerships that meet the financial challenges faced by our customers.” Uzoka said.

Alex Mifsud, founder and CEO of Ixaris, commented: “We are excited to be working with UBA, one of the most respected banks in Africa, to help bring safe and convenient e-commerce to millions of people who can really benefit from it. This deal shows how open payments platforms like Ixaris Payments Server are transforming how banks approach the product development lifecycle for payments.  By using this technology, enterprising banks like UBA can bring compelling payment applications to the market at a fraction of the time and cost it would take using traditional methods”.

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‘Contactless Cards not Likely to Make much Difference in Mobile Payment Adoption’



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A widening rollout of contactless cards has been accompanied by speculation that increased comfort with the technology will spur mobile payments, but it might actually cause some consumers to revert from digital to physical payments, to Auriemma Research.

“Consumers have been repeatedly asked to change their payment behavior,” says Jaclyn Holmes, Director of Auriemma Research. “While adjusting to various card payments is easy, the larger switch in the physical mechanism of phone payments takes more time.”

According to Auriemma’s Mobile Pay Tracker, far more mobile payment users than mobile payment non-users expressed interest in using contactless cards — at 60% and approximately 25%, respectively.

Overall, consumers are uncertain whether contactless card payments are better or worse than mobile payments: 65% say they are about the same; 18% say they are better; 17% say they are worse.

Those who said contactless card payments are better typically said they are faster, easier, and more secure than mobile payments — three things mobile payment users often say when asked why it is better to pay with mobile then with plastic.

Those who believe contactless card payments are worse often expressed concerns about security (e.g., more susceptible to fraud, wouldn’t be any safer) and say they still need to take out their payment card.

“Consumers will have more options at checkout than ever before, but will they choose contactless cards or a mobile wallet?” Holmes said. “Although upgraded terminals benefit both methods, the point-of-sale experience continues to be fragmented for mobile payment users who must pull out their physical card when things go awry.”

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‘Digital Campus’ Campaign Returns with EcobankPay



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EcobankPay, the lifestyle digital payment and collections service of Ecobank Nigeria leads the pack as the bank takes its financial inclusion campaign to higher institutions of learning across the country.

The Digital Campus campaign is making available digital banking platforms to students, teachers, other workers and businesses within campuses enabling them transfer and receive funds easily, engage in cardless withdrawals from ATMs and make payments with EcobankPay using their mobile phones.

EcobankPay which enables convenient and stress free digital payment is accompanied by Xpress pay point which facilities seamless transactions.

Commenting on why the bank decided to embark on the campus campaign, Ayodele Osolake, Ecobank Nigeria’s Head, Consumer Banking, said “the last edition of this campaign has warmed us more to the students, lecturers and other workers on the campuses visited, as they are now able to do banking just with their phones.

This has eased the entire banking process for them, whether they are opening accounts, sending and receiving money, paying school fees or withdrawing cash without cards through the Ecobank Xpress cash.

Parents and guardians are now able to transfer money to their children’s Ecobank accounts, which they can withdraw without a debit card at any Ecobank ATM (using Xpress Cash) or Xpress Point”.

“We feel it will be a disservice not to reach other campuses not visited during the first edition. Showcasing our various digital products to an increasingly digital audience is a perfect match; they will find it much easier and simpler to transact remotely, thus meeting up with their financial and lifestyle needs, without having to walk into a bank branch.

“We are committed to visiting all institutions of higher learning in Nigeria; all stakeholders within these systems will benefit from our pervasive digital banking services.

“This edition is special as we plan to make all the campuses visited EcobankPay zones as all shop owners within the campuses will be encouraged to adopt the payment solution.

“EcobankPay is free to set up as the shop owner only needs his/her QR code and phone for notifications to start receiving quick and easy payments.

“EcobankPay’s unique offering is that anyone from any bank in Nigeria can pay with MasterPass, mVISA and mCASH with any phone by scanning QR code or using USSD.

“If the person that wishes to buy goods is coming from a bank that has mVisa and wishes to pay, the same QR Code would accept mVisa payment and vice versa. That creates convenience for the merchants. The QR Code is at no cost”.

She also announced that during the activations the bank will set up free WiFi centres tagged the ‘Xpress Corner’, which will give the students free internet access and also afford them the chance to win exciting prizes.

“We were highly impressed with the turnout of students during the last edition, and they in turn were so happy to find out about our products and services, they were keen to open Ecobank Accounts. We are a youth-friendly bank and must arm our youth with a key ingredient for success in life which is financial know-how.

Our activation seeks to empower young people by offering them convenient, affordable and accessible financial services anytime, anywhere from their mobile, which is their primary mode of communication.

The Ecobank campus activation train is already at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife and will subsequently storm 12 other campuses, including University of Benin, Tai Solarin University in Ogun State, Federal University of Technology Minna, Ahmadu Bello University and Federal College of Education both in Zaria, University of Ibadan, and the Bayero University in Kano amongst other top institutions across the country.

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Market sentiment influenced by trade developments; Nigerian inflation rebounds in April



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By Lukman Otunuga, FXTM Research Analyst,

It is coincidental how Nigeria’s inflation rate accelerated in April, only a month after the central bank unexpectedly reduced interest rates for the first time in more than three years.

With the impacts of the rate cut in March having a delayed effect and unlikely to be reflected any time soon, the 13.7% rise in inflation was based around rising food prices. Should inflation return with a vengeance in the coming months, businesses and consumers may feel the heat – ultimately impacting economic growth. All in all, it remains too early to come to any meaningful conclusion over whether inflation is set to rise, given how this has been the first increase in three months.

The next major risk event for the Nigerian economy will be the GDP report for Q1 which should offer critical insight into the health of the nation during the first quarter of 2019. A figure that exceeds the 2.1% year-over-year expectations should boost confidence over the health of the Nigerian economy.

Markets influenced by ongoing trade tensions

Investor sentiment has swung back and forth this week due to the persistent uncertainty and ever-changing jigsaw puzzle that is being mapped out around global trade developments.

Stock markets were mostly mixed on Thursday amid the contrasting signals that are being delivered to investors in regards to US-China trade tensions. While there is hope on one side of the table that there will be a handshake between the US and Chinese authorities at the G20 next month to smoothen the recent escalation, this is being met with news that the US government will ban Huawei’s access to the US markets over national security concerns.

The conflicting signals over trade are likely to simply spark more uncertainty and confusion in the market, and investors will continue to scatter and reassess their appetite towards taking on risk as a result.

Market sentiment is poised to remain fragile over the next month in the lead-up to the meeting between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit late June. Will the world’s two largest economies ever find a middle ground on trade or a tension destined to intensify further throughout the year? This is a question nobody has the answer for. And this is why investors are nervous, especially following the spectacular swerve that has occurred over the past two weeks.

Whatever the outcome of the hotly anticipated Xi-Trump meeting, it will certainly have a lasting impact on market sentiment for the second half of the year.

Euro unable to hang on to gains

Investors who were looking for a quick opportunity to push the Euro higher were given the thumbs up yesterday following reports that President Trump could delay auto tariffs by six months.

However, the Euro’s upside gains are limited with prices trading around the 1.12 level against the Dollar as of writing. Even though the first estimates on the Eurozone and Germany’s Q1 GDP prints met market expectations, the continent’s growth outlook is expected to remain challenged by external factors in the form of trade tensions.

With the outlook for the Euro fundamentally bearish amid growth concerns and the European Central Bank (ECB) adopting a cautious stance, the EURUSD is positioned for further downside. A solid weekly close below the 1.120 level is likely to signal a move towards 1.113 and 1.100, respectively.


Commodity spotlight – Gold

Disappointing economic data from the United States and China added to the negative mood yesterday, which in turn was a welcome development for safe-haven assets.

Gold bulls remain supported by trade uncertainty and concerns over slowing economic growth and this continues to be reflected in the metal’s valuation. Prices have the potential to test the psychological $1300 level again in the coming days as market caution accelerates the flight to safety.

Focusing on the technical picture, the precious metal is bullish on the daily charts. A solid weekly close above $1300 should invite a move higher towards $1310 and $1324, respectively. With the catalysts that can significantly reverse the ongoing flight-to-safety in the near term being limited, Gold bulls remain in the driver’s seat.



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