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Facebook unveils F2 for payment and commerce plans, appoints David Marcus to head group

The F2 group will also pursue commerce opportunities across all the apps in the company.

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COVID 19: Facebook provides free Ads to help WHO combat Misinformation, Facebook to change Libra unveiling plans, Facebook launches new messaging app, 'Tuned', just for couples, Facebook bans racist ads, in response to ad boycotts by big brands

Facebook Inc has unveiled a new group, the Facebook Financial (F2), to run its payment projects including Facebook Pay, the universal payments plan which will run across all its apps. The F2 group will also pursue commerce opportunities across all the apps in the company.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the group will be headed by David Marcus, co-creator of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project and head of Novi, the division building a digital wallet for the new crypto.

Marcus will also be involved in WhatsApp’s payments efforts in India and Brazil, while he will be assisted by former Upwork Chief Executive Officer, Stephane Kasriel who will serve as a payments vice president.

READ ALSO: President Trump finally bans TikTok, WeChat

“We have a lot of commerce stuff going on across Facebook, It felt like it was the right thing to do to rationalize the strategy at a company level around all things payments,” Marcus said.

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According to the statement, this is only the latest effort to bring all of Facebook’s apps and products closer together. CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had on many occasions announced plans to integrate all the company’s messaging services.

The president of the group, Marcus, explained that with users making more purchases across Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, the company’s advertising revenue is expected to grow. This is bearing in mind that users would be spending more time in the apps.

The top priority to be handled by the group is activating the payment solutions in India and Brazil, where regulations have stalled the company’s efforts to make WhatsApp a foremost destination for commerce.

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READ MORE: Facebook brings digital payment to WhatsApp, begins test-run in Brazil

The Backstory: While presenting the company’s Q2 2020 results in July, Zuckerberg had expressed his excitement about the commercial aspect of the company’s messaging apps, saying that the trend will likely grow as payment options are rolled out in the company’s apps.

Note that the head of the new group, Marcus, is a payments expert who joined Facebook in 2014 from PayPal Holdings Inc. where he was president. He ran Facebook Messenger for four years before he was appointed to take charge of Libra and get the cryptocurrency running for cross border payments.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Tech News

Software bug brings down Microsoft Teams, Azure

Microsoft’s Teams app recently experience a bit of a glitch that affected services globally.

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Microsoft plans to train 25 million workers for free in 2020

Microsoft recently disclosed that it was investigating an outage that brought down its cloud-based office services, including the meetings software, Teams, worldwide.

Microsoft reported challenges with authentication for its cloud services at around 9.25 pm UTC, meaning people were having issues logging into the online services; Teams, Outlook, and Office. The outage had affected services globally.

READ: Apple to settle customers with $500 million over slow iPhones

In a series of tweets sent by the world’s most valuable software maker and seen by Nairametrics, the company said:

“We’re investigating an issue affecting access to multiple Microsoft 365 services. We’re working to identify the full impact and will provide more information shortly.

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“We’ve published MO222965 to the Microsoft 365 Admin Dashboard, and will also be updating http://status.office.com with updates to our investigation.

“We’ve identified a recent change that appears to be the source of the issue. We’re rolling back the change to mitigate the impact. Please follow http://status.office.com for updates on this issue if you are unable to access the admin portal.”

READ: Oracle wins bid to acquire TikTok’s US operations after Microsoft offer was rejected

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Why it’s important: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, value chain services like Teams have been critical for individuals, and businesses working remotely.

In the month of April, Microsoft reported 75 million daily active users on Teams as a result of more people working from home.

READ: Guinness Nigeria finding it hard to refinance its loans due to dollar scarcity

With so many users depending on its services, Microsoft cannot afford to have any downtime. However, it reported that the services were mostly restored, though a small subset of customers in North America and the Asia Pacific were still unable to access them.

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Business Half Hour

Logistics became more essential during COVID-19 – Moses Enenwali, CEO and Co-founder, Topship

Moses Enenwali discusses the Logistics business and expresses optimism of massive growth in the nearest future.

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Logistics became more essential during COVID-19 - Moses Enenwali, CEO and Co-founder, Topship

Around the world, there are fears that drones and robots could take over a lot of jobs in the near future. For the Nigerian logistics sector, however, this is going to have its challenges.

The Nairametrics Business Half Hour radio show hosted Moses Enenwali, where he recounted how his inability to send a parcel out of the country during the lockdown led him to start Topship Logistics.

Moses said that a lot of real-life scenarios on Nigerian roads would have to be factored in, as well as the cost-effectiveness of the system.

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

“One has to consider the bumpy roads, thugs on the roads, thieves and several others which are a possibility on Nigerian roads. One also has to factor the cost of the drones, and decide if it is cost-effective,” he explained.

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As several sectors mourned the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant shutdown of the global economy, entrepreneurs in the logistics sector were smiling to the bank, due to the sudden change in fortunes and the realization that the world was indeed going digital.

READ: NNPC GMD gives reasons for shutdown of refineries, to get private managers

“Logistics found me…”

Moses Enenwali, co-founder and CEO of Topship logistics, a business that rose from the dust of the pandemic, affirms that his faith in the logistics industry was strengthened at this time. With everyone locked in their homes and countries at this time, it became glaring that logistics was not only an important business, but an essential one.

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In January 2014, he started out with Ernst & Young as an associate and worked there for about 17 months. He moved to Africa Courier Express (ACE) as a client manager, which formed his initial experience in logistics. He later worked with Sage as Strategic Business Development Manager, and as a consultant with Sahel Consulting.

Moses then served as a part of the Sendbox team responsible for driving supply-side growth across service lines. He recalled that all of those jobs gave him extensive experience in the logistics industry.

“I did not discover logistics. I think logistics found me. I was looking for a certain kind of leader and founder and that was what I found in Tunde Kehinde that inspired me to go work for ACE,” he recalled.

The business was born in the midst of the lockdown arising from the pandemic, at a time most people were looking for safer but cheaper options to move things in and out of Nigeria. Moses recalls that he was trying to move some things into the country and could not get one that suited his needs.

“I was able to find two providers but one of them was very expensive and difficult to understand, while the other was not selling to people like me who wanted one-offs,” Moses explained. This clearly showed a gap in the space and given his extensive experience in logistics, he reasoned that he could provide a solution.

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READ: NIPOST’s new charges could have ruined the e-commerce/logistics industry

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A light model that comes without strings

Logistics is a complicated and difficult space to operate in, and most startups there find themselves choked by the sheer enormity of the initial set-up costs and operating expenses. Often, they could struggle to recoup initial costs and loans before breaking even, or even contemplating expansion.

Topship started with the aggregator model – one that allows them to enter partnerships with parties that have some of the required startup resources. Instead of going for a mass purchase of vehicles, motorbikes or airplanes, the company entered several partnerships with these parties.

Moses explained, “This model allows us operate and scale significantly faster than most. We are like the Uber for logistics, aggregating partners and working with them to ensure that we give the most effective services.”

The model came from his previous work experiences. “ACE raised a lot of money but used a huge chunk to buy logistics assets and solve logistics problems so I learnt not to do that because that would make it even more capital intensive. At Sendbox, I also learnt that a lot of people are willing to partner with you when you present an opportunity to them to sign up on your platform, so we saw that the uber model can also work for logistics,” he said.

Customers for this business include students sending scripts and documents to countries like Canada, or small-scale entrepreneurs trying to export their products (wigs, shoes and bags), or even parents trying to send supplies to their children schooling in other countries. Corporate bodies also use the company for their logistics.

READ: Mr Bigg’s revamps operation, introduces contemporary restaurants 

Connecting with customers

Topship thrives on technology, which means that most of its customers connect digitally. Enenwali notes however that there is always need for a physical presence, even though the company offers doorstep pickup. “People want to know that there is a physical location where they can see and connect with you and know if their packages would have issues with the customs. They can walk in, weigh their packages and send the desired packages to their loved ones,” he explained.

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Still in its first year of operation, Topship has two locations in Nigeria, one in Lagos and another in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The goal is to have physical presence in all states of Nigeria, with a processing manager to man these centers.

To protect customer satisfaction, insurance policy is a necessity for fidelity guarantee, and theft of goods in transit, if they occur.

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READ: Boeing to halt production of troubled 737 Max 

Business in the new normal

The new normal has come with new sets of rules on occupancy and social relations. Employees no longer meet physically to bounce ideas off one another. In this new plan, Topship has a bulk of its staff working remotely with just the processing manager left to work physically from the office. Customers have to abide by the new guidelines as well, to limit contact.

“It is not a work culture I am very comfortable with, but we all have to make adjustments for our safety. I like to look people in the eyes and interact with them, but there is only so much we can do with zoom.”

Raising funds

Having eliminated major expenses, the founders of Topship were able to bootstrap the initial costs. However, there are plans to raise funds from external investors for expansion purposes, since the model is not capital-intensive.

“Nigeria is opening up to the world and exporting her products to other countries. Local manufacturers in places like Lagos, Ibadan and Aba would like to take advantage of it. This means that there is a large market for us, and I believe that in the next five years, we would be a 200-300 million dollar business,” Moses said.

Topship logistics is aiming high in the Nigerian logistics market. Moses sees the business becoming a last stop for e-commerce businesses, given its rich network and model which allows it to handle on-demand deliveries and real-time deliveries. It is both cheaper and more effective so more businesses would be willing to key in.

Human capital

Topship operates a model that is centred around partnerships, and to protect this, the company uses Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to protect it from defaults.

“However, there are points where we have to employ empathy because we understand the situation in the country. Sometimes the dispatch riders make all attempts but traffic, rainfall or accidents could disrupt their arrival time so we have to apply a human face before dishing out sanctions,” he explained.

Besides the partnerships, there is a need for staff, and getting good manpower often poses a challenge for startups. Topship adopted a Stu-tern method, getting undergraduates and graduates interested in interning for a while where they learn while earning

“More importantly, I work with referrals from A players because I believe that A players know A players. The choice of staff can make your brand the best or worst for your customers,” Moses emphasized.

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Tech News

Dell partners firms to launch Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria

Dell Technologies is to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria.

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Dell Technologies has partnered with some global tech firms to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria. The centre is a technology project designed to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technologies for millions in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the company and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

In the statement, Nicholas Travers, Director, Central and West Africa, Dell Technologies explained that the project, which will be launched on October 1, would save huge costs and capital flight while also boosting technology adoption in Nigeria.

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

He said, “We believe the Tech Experience Centre will help reduce the decision making cycle and save huge costs and time of traveling to locations outside our continent to visit and experience these technologies at work. This is a fantastic initiative by TD Africa, perhaps the first of its kind in the region and we are proud to be part of it.”

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According to him, the project will go a long way in helping Dell Technologies showcase its suite of cutting-edge technologies.

‘‘The launch of the Experience Centre will support the growth of technology in Nigeria and the West African region. Also, it provides a fantastic platform for Dell Technologies to showcase the very many technologies we offer,” Travers added.

READ: How Apple lost over $500 billion in 12 trading days

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, is expected to commission the Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa.

Travers added that the Centre marked the first time global tech giants would come together to establish their respective experience centres under one roof to create a truly immersive and rich experience of latest technologies in action.

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