A recent report says the earnings of Nigeria’s Deposit Money Banks from digital payment platforms grew by 64% to reach N212.66 billion in 2019. With this current pandemic showing no signs of slowing down and the efforts put in place to achieving social distancing, this number is expected to increase exponentially.
Simply put, the crisis could accelerate the shift to online payments as more services reassess their reliance on face-to-face transactions.
The effect of the virus scare
Medical experts have established that the COVID-19 can remain alive and infectious up to three days on a surface. This increases the chances that whatever surfaces can be touched by many people in a day can be a medium to transmit the virus. For this reason, governments across the world (including in Nigeria) are increasingly encouraging contactless payments, thereby changing the landscape of digital payments and security measures. In Nigeria, logistics and eCommerce companies like Jumia have already switched to contactless payments to minimize risk to employees and customers.
But there is another problem…
While the entire world has gone digital with remote banking, financing, working and learning, there is an urgent need for cybersecurity. Many digital and e-payment platforms have had an incredible increase in demand. Unfortunately, these unexpected spikes in transactions can also overwhelm the systems’ capacity, thereby exposing it to risks.
At this point, the internet could reach a breaking point. A sign to this fact is how Netflix Inc., Alphabet’s YouTube, and Facebook Inc. have all had to reduce their video-streaming quality to avoid broadband congestion.
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning regarding cybercriminals impersonating the WHO in an attempt to steal money/sensitive information. With the increasing number of people using digital platforms, personal Identity Management, VPN, VOIPs, Firewalls, Unified Endpoint Management and other online security measures will be vital in the months to come.
A large number of white-collar workers are mandated to work remotely, thereby putting them at risk of hackers who may try to exploit the anxiety caused by the pandemic. These hackers could access sensitive business data on corporate networks from their devices, or use third-party services to improve their damage scope. People whose devices and software are not secure enough are more susceptible to hackers, who carry out phishing scams and other hacks to get people to give up delicate or vital information
In South Africa for instance, the number of network attacks has spiked along with the rise in Coronavirus cases in that country. The country is usually vulnerable to cyber-attacks and has suffered breaches on different occasions since the past year. However, between March 8 and March 18, network attacks increased from less than 25,000 attacks per day to over 300,000 according to Kaspersky, an internet security company.
With a global outbreak like this comes a wave of misinformation and Nigerians seem to be particularly vulnerable to this. A few years back with the Ebola outbreak, fake news claimed bathing in saltwater cures the disease. Though harmless at first glance, broadcasting fake news at a time when people are desperately in search of answers and information, puts them right in the hands of mischievous people.
The Nigerian police have also warned that criminals are on the loose and ready to take advantage of people’s anxiety to cause havoc online. According to the police, some scammers have created and set up fraudulent eCommerce platforms, websites, social media accounts and emails to defraud victims. A typical scam tries to convince people to buy Coronavirus-related medical products, after which they are then asked to pay via bank transfer, thereby exposing their account details to the criminals.
Others impersonate the government, some with fake donations request letters from the Federal Ministry of Finance taking advantage of the fact that a number of affluent individuals and companies have announced donations for Nigeria’s efforts at controlling the virus.
It should be noted that the combination of fake news, scams, and cyberattacks could increase during this period according to INTERPOL, a transnational police organization. Therefore, actions must be taken in order to ensure cysecurity.
Why the need to improve on cybersecurity efforts?
- The dependency on digital infrastructure has multiplied and the internet has almost instantly become the channel for effective human interaction. In today’s unprecedented context, a cyberattack that deprives organizations or individuals access to their devices, data, or the internet could be deadly. In the worst possible scenario, broad-based cyberattacks could cause widespread infrastructure failures that take entire communities or cities offline, thereby obstructing healthcare providers, public systems, and networks.
- There’s no time as uncertain as the pandemic in which the world is in right now. In a crisis, people tend to make mistakes they normally would not. As such, cybercriminals are extremely creative in devising new ways to exploit users, including new technologies to access passwords, networks and data. They do this by capitalizing on popular topics and trends to tempt users into unsafe online behaviour.
- More time spent online could lead to users falling for free access to obscure websites or pirated shows. All of these expose them to likely malware and attacks with risks of requests for credit card information or installation of specialized viewing applications.
In the end, the COVID-19 crisis is a human challenge above all else. People are juggling professional responsibilities with important personal ones. It is expected that the coming weeks and months will likely bring more uncertainty. However, potential damage can be curbed if we all implement safe practices as we try to get through these unprecedented times.
Facebook takes on Zoom with its new video chat feature
Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million.
Virtual Meetings have exploded in recent months with the Coronavirus outbreak forcing people to start working and socializing from home. Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million in April.
Another popular option, the Houseparty, owned by Fortnite-maker Epic Games has been downloaded more than two million times as at the beginning of March and other apps, such as Microsoft Teams, offer premium features for free.
With the current trend and the need to meet the demands of teleconferencing, Facebook is jumping into video chat game with its product feature, Messenger Rooms, a new feature that will allow up to 50 people to take part in a video chat, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts.
Facebook has had a long and notorious history of expanding its features to emulate major competitors, from first launching stories on Instagram in 2016 as a clone of Snapchat. Now Facebook wants more of the video market and is trying to take on the now popular video sharing platform, Zoom (ZM).
Previously, the messenger video calls were limited to eight people but with this new video feature ‘Messenger Rooms,’ users can currently host a meeting with up 50 people at once with no time limit on its messenger app, it will also be added to the company’s other applications- WhatsApp will see that the maximum number of people who can simultaneously join a video call will increase from four to eight.
This new feature will be available on beta versions of WhatsApp for both Android and iOS. For making a video call with up to eight people, your WhatsApp must be running version 2.20.133 on Android and version 18.104.22.168 on iOS. The other condition is, the other participants that you’re looking to video and voice call, must also have the same beta version of WhatsApp running on their devices.
What’s the Catch?
Although these Messenger Rooms won’t be completely private, WhatsApp video and voice calls with up to eight people, will be end-to-end encrypted so no one else can view or listen in on private conversations, not even Facebook. Basically, end-to-end encryption is one of the main Unique Selling Points (USP) of the new video feature. Facebook is working to bring the security protocol to Messenger and Instagram Direct, so users will potentially be able to cross-platform chat across all these services one day, it’s easier said than done.
Like house party, the messenger rooms will let people drop in and out of the group video chats while the “room” is open just the way people have the ability to bump into each other in the physical world. Another catch of the new video feature is that users can create a Messenger Room that will be able to keep their room private, block unwanted participants, and send invitations to people who are not on Facebook.
Facebook is working to prevent the reoccurring issues its competitor’s faced like the “Zoombombing problem,” which let uninvited guests drop into video calls to abuse participants or share pornography. The company is working with cryptographers to make the links for the Messenger Rooms difficult for hackers to guess. Although, publicly discoverable rooms will be listed at the top of the Facebook news feed and chats will not be end-to-end encrypted. Possibly, this would be one of the reasons why Facebook may successfully take on Zoom with its security and end-to-end encrypted tactics.
Other features of the new video feature include:
- The ability to add eight people to a WhatsApp video call – up from four.
- The return of “Live With”, which lets users host Facebook Live streams with another person, to bring guests or performers on to their show.
- The ability to watch Instagram live videos on desktop computers.
- Participants will be able to use augmented reality filters and change their background in real-time.
Tech Roundup S02E19
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports
We conclude our Fintech Roundtable series, this time with a discussion on Fintech related investments.
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports show that over $400 million went into Fintech startups in 2019, and amid Covid-19, Nigeria based Fintechs have announced new rounds of investment this year but will this trend continue.
To help us unpack this, this panel discussion was led by Deji Sasegbon, Director of Platforms at EchoVC and a returning guest on
We covered several topics but focused on what investors might be doing differently going forward and how Investments in Fintech ideas and businesses across Africa might be impacted going forward.
Hope you find the episode interesting.
Digital Financial Literacy, a must for every Nigerian in Post-COVID
Nigeria has set a 95% digital literacy target for the next ten years under a Digital Economy Strategy in order to ramp up the contributions of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy.
The importance of digital literacy in the furtherance of Nigeria’s economic growth is a topic that has proven to be extremely paramount especially in these forced changing times.
Truth is, talent training outlets are not in short supply in Nigeria; from Decagon to Learn Factory; there are a number of programmes offering advanced and specialized digital literacy skills in fields like software development, machine learning etc.
As a matter of fact, Nigeria has set a 95% digital literacy target for the next ten years under a Digital Economy Strategy in order to ramp up the contributions of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy and last year, the sector accounted for 13.8% of the nation’s GDP which is more than the oil and gas sector on which the country has previously been heavily reliant.
The Lagos State Government since this pandemic collaborated with Microsoft Office to train 18,000 secondary school teachers on digital literacy in order to equip, train, and engage them to deliver on their duties through technology during this lockdown period.
(READ MORE: Digital financial services amid COVID-19)
However, digital financial literacy is a niche that still has not become mainstream as many would assume. For the reason of the evident gap in the country, we have companies like NetPlusDotCom organizing webinars to educate Nigerians on the importance of an inevitable shift to digital payments and financing post-COVID-19.
Unfortunately, there are a few challenges hindering the growth of digital financial literacy in Nigeria, they include:
- Policy Implementation: Already set regulations geared towards promoting digital literacy are not readily implemented.
- The regular school curriculum does not reflect a component of digital literacy skills that would be relevant in the future of work.
- High costs of infrastructures such as the Internet and power is one of the challenges faced in promoting digital financial literacy in Nigeria.
- There is a digital divide due to the existence of unreached communities who are not aware of the concept of digital literacy.
- Digital literacy has been termed too difficult to conceptualize resulting in unnecessary complexity for the understanding of the process to a layman.
- Resistance to Change: The general attitude of people towards change and what digital literacy offers, is a hindrance in promoting digital financial literacy.
- Skepticism of many unenlightened Nigerians.
- More citizen engagement and awareness of existing and new policies on digital literacy.
- Investment in research and development by the government and other institutions to help Nigerians be more conversant on international standards as it concerns promoting digital literacy.
- There should be a collaboration between organizations whose works are centered on digital literacy with schools in actualizing a more robust curriculum.
- The government should provide tax incentives/ reliefs for telecoms to enable them to reduce the costs of data. Telecoms can also provide ICT parks to allow for access to the internet.
- On inclusion, collaboration between Government, Multilateral organizations, and civil society groups should be considered to reach underserved communities possibly in the local language so as to avoid the language barrier.
- To ward off resistance to change, there should be orientation programs on the need and importance of digital literacy using the bottom-top approach of reaching out to grass-root individuals.