Nigerians have recently been introduced to the popular MMM scheme. The controversial scheme who most “savvy investors” refer to as either a ponzi or pyramid scheme has garnered a lot of support from those who participate in it. Operators of the scheme in Nigeria have also not been ashamed to defend it vehemently despite the warning of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it did not recognize such a scheme.
It’s quite easy to understand why a lot of people defend this scheme. Firstly, it is highly profitable and very easy to understand. All you need to do is deposit money into someone’s account and then wait patiently for one more for someone else to deposit money into yours with an interest of about 30% in one month. No investment or business out there can beat such return.
The second reason of course is the fear that it could actually blow up if the media and critics in the social media continue to write negatively about it. This is because the scheme relies heavily on new incomers to sustain so the more circumspect people are to invest, the higher the rate of failure for the scheme which could mean millions of naira lost for early investors.
So what does it look like if this scheme fails? Luckily it is easy to find out. MMM is new in Nigeria but not new in Africa or indeed the world. A trip down to South Africa provides us an idea of what could happen if things go bad and early investors stop coming.
Just a few months ago (March 2016), MMM crashed in South Africa, forcing the scheme to reset. As such, members of the scheme who had invested and were awaiting their returns lost millions of rands. According to this article from a South African Website Fin24. Here is the full article as culled from the website including comments from frustrated investors.
MMM resets system causing panic among members
Cape Town – MMM SA members stand to lose thousands of rands after their accounts were frozen and the mavros points system was reset due to a lack of new money entering the alleged pyramid scheme.
Anonymous leaders of the South African wing of the alleged Russian pyramid scheme blamed “media panic” for the reboot on April 30.
MMM SA told members: “We have to declare a restart and start all over again. We have no choice.”
MMM members have voiced their concern on social media, with one claiming he is set to lose R30 000.
Facebook user BM Abinet said the last time he checked he had 35 798 mavros (which is equivalent to the rand currency), “but now the system says my old mavros is 5 798, so where’s my R30 000?”
MMM SA told members that all mavros from before April 30 were frozen and were now called “old mavros” and that “any operations with them are impossible”.
“With the development of the system, we will send 10% of total input to pay back the ‘old’ mavros.
“According to the experience of other countries, we can definitely say that in the normal course of events all the old mavros debts will be paid off in about six months.”
It said “new mavros (mavros bought from the moment of this announcement) are introduced. You can use them on a common basis to ‘acquire’ and ‘withdraw’ them at any time.”
“We will quickly pay off ‘old’ mavro debts, no doubt about it. You just have to wait.”
The same message was given to another alleged SA pyramid scheme Kipi, which last paid out “dreams” to its members in 2015. The system is very similar to MMM, but instead of “donations”, it uses “dreams”.
Kipi, also known as Mydeposit241, is one of several schemes under investigation by the National Consumer Commission. Others include WorldVentures, Make Believe, NMT Investments, Instant Wealth Club, Sikhese (Pty) Ltd and Wealth Creation Club.
Facebook user NK Njokweni wrote in April 2016: “Talk about Kipi because people are waiting for their money since December.”
MMM SA members are promised between 30% and 40% in returns for paying other people money on request. This donation model has been described as a pyramid scheme by most financial experts and is being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) as such.
It has also being described as a stokvel, which it is not, according to the National Stokvel Association of SA. It is not regulated by the SA Reserve Bank or any other regulator, so members who lose money won’t be able to seek justice.
However, the Hawks has requested the public to report the scheme to the police should they have a complaint. This will assist them in their investigation.
Facebook user EN Zamadlomo said: “What’s up with MMM with inability to pay our money, but want us to provide help how? Is MMM going down?”
Facebook user IO Oluhle said: “Something is not right. What’s going on? Where is our money? My dashboard is wiped clean.”
Facebook user I Maja said: “Mine too is wiped out. MMM systems have been frozen. Is it the end of MMM?”
Facebook user DM Luzitu said: “How am I going to take back my money, what am I going to tell people who get in behind me? Please help me.”
Responding to users querying what had happened to their promised future “donations”, a MMM member said: “To all members who requested ph (provide help) and they did not make any payment, your orders will be automatically cancelled because they are restarting from old mavros to new. So please if your request to ph is cancelled kindly make new ph with same amount or more again.
“We will not gh (get help) for two weeks because of we still updating the system. If you requested any gh and your order is not out yet, may you kindly cancel the requests because you will not be given any order for the next two weeks.
“All this is because of the long queue of gh that was requested after the panic pause caused by media … so now the system is restarting again for the better of our people.
“MMM is not crashing, but we are fixing the system to recover and operate as normal as before.”
In a line that reveals the potential pyramid scheme nature of MMM, the user said: “please recruit, recruit, recruit and ph, ph, ph to help the system to recover quickly”.
Part of this article originally appeared on Fin24.
Why Artificial Intelligence will separate winning banks from losers amid COVID-19
Banks around the world were already under pressure to fully deploy Artificial Intelligence prior to the pandemic.
Banking experts from around the world believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become the differentiating factor between banks that will succeed and those that will fail, in the new era of global banking.
A new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which was sponsored by Geneva-based banking software company Temenos AG, surveyed some 305 banking executives from around the world. 77% of these bankers stated that AI will separate winning banks from losers.
The role of COVID-19 pandemic
The report also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has put global banks under immense pressure to readjust their strategies and align with the technological requirements of the 21st-century banking industry.
“Retail, corporate and private banks were already under pressure to deploy new technologies and reshape their company cultures in order to compete with big tech firms and payment players. Now, as digital banking surges due to the coronavirus pandemic, this task is more pressing than ever,” said some part of the report.
Key findings from the report
- 66% of banking executives say new technologies will continue to drive the global banking sphere for the next five years while regulatory concerns around these technologies remain top of mind for banking executives (42%).
- 77% of bankers believe that unlocking value from AI will be the differentiator between winning and losing banks.
- 45% of respondents are focused on transforming their existing business models into digital ecosystems. Therefore, banks are expected to continue to adapt their internal structures to digital technologies in order to enhance customer experience, product offerings, and new revenue streams.
The backstory and the present concerns
Prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic which has destabilised the global economy and raised major health and safety concerns, many banks around the world were already making major efforts towards the adoption of Artificial Intelligence in their daily operations. Bank customers were encouraged to make use of digital banking solutions in a bid to reduce traffic in banking halls.
To a large extent, this worked, although the pandemic really helped to accelerate the pace. However, the widespread adoption of Artificial Intelligence has not come without some concerns/challenges. According to the report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, data bias, “black box” risk, and lack of human oversight as some of the main concerns bothering bankers.
The report did, however, specify some regulatory guidelines on how best banks can deploy Artificial Intelligence, as you can see below:
- Ethics and fairness: banks must develop AI models that are ‘ethical by design’. AI use cases and decisions should be monitored and reviewed and data sources regularly evaluated to ensure that data remains representative.
- Explainability and traceability: steps taken to develop AI models must be documented in order to fully explain AI-based decisions to the individuals they impact.
- Data quality: bank-wide data governance standards must be established and applied to ensure data accuracy and integrity and avoid bias.
- Skills: banks must ensure the right level of AI expertise across the business in order to build and maintain AI models, as well as oversee these models.
Why it matters
Artificial Intelligence is expected to remain very relevant for banks, even after the COVID-pandemic must have finally been brought under control. Therefore, it is expedient for banks around the world to really develop their AI capacity in order to succeed both during and after the pandemic.
You may download Forging new frontiers: Advanced Technologies will Revolutionise Banking by clicking here.
NITDA launches technology and entrepreneurship scheme
The programme will create local content in Nigeria’s ICT space and jobs in the innovation and tech sector
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has launched its Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Scheme that is specially designed for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Tech startups.
This was disclosed in a statement shared by the agency and signed by Head, Corporate Affairs, and External Relations, NITDA, Hadiza Umar. In the statement, she explained that the scheme, which targets young skilled Nigerians, would enable the digital economy needed for the growth of the nation’s economy.
She said, “It is part of Nigeria’s plan to create 100 million jobs in 10 years, and the program would be beneficial for ICT and tech startups in the nation. There is the need to build support systems that would help in reducing the barriers of entry for startups while increasing the capacity of hubs and startups to create new bankable products and services.
“NITDA initiated a scheme to provide opportunities for building the capacity of both hub owners and start-ups to ensure massive creation of technology entrepreneurs and jobs within the industry.”
According to her, the Digital economic Policy goes in line with the NITDA scheme which ensures skilled hub managers have the necessary support for tech startups and “build innovation ecosystems in their localities.
“It will also build the capacity of hubs to support startups and build local innovation ecosystems, encourage innovation, increase technology and entrepreneurship skills among aspiring and existing entrepreneurs” she added.
She also said the programme will help create local content in Nigeria’s ICT space, render services, and jobs in the innovation and tech sector. The hub managers are required to sign agreements with NITDA to enable them to train managers for other regions. Covering infrastructure needs like Internet and power supply.
“The participants will also be matched with mentors and guided by coaches as they build out their products and services. At the end of the training period, participants will be required to choose if they would like to begin a startup or to get a job,” she added.
She revealed that those who sign up will be placed in a six-month incubator programme which will allow them to gain skills and work experiences needed to build a digital economy. Interested participants are advised to apply, as the portal closes on the 24 of July. See the portal here
Twitter freezes password reset to address cyberattack
Users will be updated on the progress of the investigations and their account functionalities.
Twitter Inc has announced that some users may be unable to tweet, reset their password, or access other functionalities, as the tech company tries to address the breach on its systems on Wednesday.
According to its tweet, the most accounts affected by this freeze are verified individual accounts, including those with no evidence of being compromised.
We also limited functionality for a much larger group of accounts, like all verified accounts (even those with no evidence of being compromised), while we continue to fully investigate this.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020
This freeze is, however temporary as users and verified account holders should be able to tweet as soon as the breaches on the internal systems are addressed, and their accounts are confirmed to be secured.
The disruptive move, according to the company, is a necessity, and users will be updated on the progress of the investigations and their account functionalities.
In its Thursday morning tweet, Twitter announced that investigations are ongoing to decipher how the attackers were able to gain access to its internal systems and tools.
Nairametrics reported the breach of the Twitter accounts of top personalities, with the hackers tweeting about a BTC giveaway, and BTC doubling.
Speaking about the breach, Twitter issued a statement;
“We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.
“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf. We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it.”
As soon as the breach was detected, the affected accounts were locked down, and Twitter took down the fraudulent tweets.
The company however promised that all of the compromised accounts will be restored as soon as the security has been re-established.
The statement added that steps have been taken to “limit access to internal systems and tools” while investigations are ongoing, and heighten the security of the medium in the future.
Bitcoin scammers, on Wednesday, hacked into the Twitter accounts of many top personalities and leading brands, including Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, and Uber, tweeting about a BTC giveaway. They later tweeted that they would double Bitcoins for BTC holders.
According to Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of the world’s leading crypto exchange Gemini, the scammers were only able to make away with “a paltry sum,”, giving rise to thoughts that there might be other reasons for the attack.
Twitter has commenced investigations into the attack.
Meanwhile, Tron founder, Justin Sun has put a bounty on those responsible for the attacks, saying he is ready to give $1 million to the person or persons responsible for tracking down the hackers.