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Tech News

African Companies, Flutterwave and Gro Intelligence recognized as ‘Pioneer’ in 2021 TIME 100 Most Influential Companies

These tech companies are the only African companies listed in this year’s lineup alongside companies like Twitter, Apple, and Stripe.

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Flutterwave emerges Y Combinator’s African most valuable startup 

Flutterwave, an African-based fintech company that provides a payment infrastructure for global merchants and payment service providers across the continent, and Gro Intelligence, an analytics startup deploying artificial intelligence systems for food security and climate stability solutions, were listed as pioneers on TIME’s newly released list of 100 Most Influential Companies making an extraordinary impact around the world.

These tech companies are the only African companies listed in this year’s lineup alongside companies like Twitter, Apple, and Stripe.

According to TIME, Flutterwave was selected for its efforts in powering retailers after the pandemic restricted movements in the region while Gro Intelligence was chosen for building the AI-powered decision engine across climate, agriculture, and the economy.

The list was grouped into five categories; Pioneers, Leaders, Innovators, Disruptors, and Titans.

When pandemic lockdowns hit brick-and-mortar businesses in Africa, the digital payment service was able to rapidly set up digital storefronts for 20,000 customers, throwing them a lifeline. Flutterwave hit tech-unicorn status in March when it secured $170 million in Series C funding from global investors, valuing the company at more than $1 billion.

Gro Intelligence works with thousands of clients, ranging from big food companies like Unilever and Yum! Brands to financial institutions, including BNP Paribas and Wells Fargo, providing them with a host of data and analysis on the global agricultural ecosystem.

In January, Gro raised $85 million. Backers include prominent tech investors Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures (a strategic partnership between TPG Growth and EchoVC).

Gro ingests and analyzes over 650 trillion data points from more than 40,000 sources—crop forecasts, satellite images, topography, reports on precipitation, soil moisture, evapotranspiration—to provide insights and forecasts into 15,000 unique agricultural products.

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What you should know about TIME’s 100 Most Influential Companies List

TIME highlights businesses making an extraordinary impact around the world. To assemble this list, TIME solicited nominations across sectors including healthcare, entertainment, transportation, technology and more from their global network of editors and correspondents, as well as from industry experts.

Janet John is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Uyo. She specializes in technical writing where she creates easy to read documentation, articles to clearly and efficiently explain highly complex processes. When she is not writing, she works as a freelance front-end developer

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Spotlight Stories

How Nigerian FinTech industry is attracting funding from local and foreign investors – Report

The Nigerian FinTech industry is maturing at an exponential pace according to a report on the Nigerian fintech landscape.

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Startup funding in Africa, Fintech, Disrupt Africa

The Nigerian FinTech industry is nascent compared to FinTech ecosystems globally. However, it is maturing at an exponential pace according to a report on the Nigerian FinTech landscape titled, “Nigeria FinTech Census 2020: Profiling and defining the fintech sector.”

This growth of the sector is reflected in the profile of the firms, the breadth of coverage, the increasing level of global connection and rising levels of profitability.

Nigeria is classified as a developing FinTech economy compared to its more mature global peers such as the UK, Singapore, Australia, Sweden and India. It is estimated that Nigeria’s FinTech revenues will reach $543 million by 2022, driven by increasing smartphone penetration and the unbanked populations.

In 2019, Nigeria officially recognized its first FinTech unicorn, with Interswitch achieving a valuation of $1 billion based on a $200 million investment from VISA. Following shortly in 2020, Stripe, a US-based financial services company, agreed to buy Paystack in a $200 million deal, just five years after Paystack was launched.

From the report, there are six broad FinTech segments supported by an ecosystem of enablers namely:

Payments, Mobile Money and Digital Banking

Payments continue to be a major focus area for investors with demand driven by favourable policies promoting financial inclusion, and growth in infrastructure supporting mobile payments. Nigeria is increasingly becoming a cashless economy largely due to the regulatory drive for financial inclusion promoting growth in digital payments.

Lending

Digital lending remains a thriving FinTech sub-sector driven largely by retail lending. A large number of Fintech’s are leveraging payments data to create unique credit scoring models to enable retail lending. Some examples include Carbon, Fairmoney, Aella Credit and Branch.

Commercial banks are also responding by developing strong digital retail lending propositions to compete with the FinTechs (e.g. GTBank QuickCredit, Access Bank’s QuickBucks and Sterling Bank’s Specta).

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Savings, investments and crowdfunding

Savings, investments and crowdfunding are growth opportunity areas for Fintechs, however recent regulations are expected to spur significant industry changes. Fintechs in this space offer an attractive bouquet of products often with better interests and return on investments compared to traditional banks.

Enterprise Services & Infrastructure

FinTechs are also providing solutions and infrastructure to help banks digitize and extend their services. FinTechs in this space are providing critical infrastructure to help banks digitize and extend their services. This includes API providers who connect bank accounts to third-party applications (e.g. Okra, OnePipe, Mono), credit infrastructure providers (Migo, Pngme), and banking enterprise solution providers (e.g. AppZone, FinTrak, Seamfix).

Cryptocurrency

Strong growth in local cryptocurrency adoption has evolved a new crop of Crypto-FinTechs. However, recent CBN circulars on cryptocurrency adversely impact short-term sustainability. Nigeria has witnessed growing cryptocurrency adoption, driven by a predominantly young digital-savvy population, inflationary local currency, stringent foreign exchange policies on both inflows and outflows, and a high demand for remittances among Nigeria’s diaspora.

InsurTech

InsurTech remains a nascent but emerging segment of the Nigerian FinTech industry. Nigeria’s InsurTech segment is a relatively small but growing subsector of the FinTech industry, with less than 15 FinTechs estimated to be playing in this space.

Initial InsurTech solutions focused on improving access to insurance by providing marketplaces for insurance (e.g. Compare Insurance, Autogenius). These platforms provided improved customer experience, and have since extended their offerings towards providing more value-added services to consumers. For instance, Autogenius enables renewal and registration of vehicle documents.

Bottomline

As the Nigerian FinTech industry continues to grow, there is enormous potential for the industry to mature into a compelling force within the African FinTech landscape, as well as become a significant player on the global stage. Two fundamental foundations for continued success will include the level of effective collaboration with major players and the level of government support.

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Business News

SpaceX says it’s pursuing necessary licenses to bring Starlink to Nigeria

Broadband penetration of 70% which covers 90% of the population is the FG’s target in its National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.

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Telecoms sector remains resilient as broadband subscriptions climb

American private space exploration company founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX says it is working to pursue all necessary licenses needed to bring the Starlink Satellite internet services to Nigeria.

This was disclosed by Mr Ryan Goodnight, SpaceX’s Starlink Market Access Director for Africa in a meeting with NCC’s Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta on Friday in Abuja.

What SpaceX is saying about Starlink in Nigeria

“SpaceX has been in discussion with NCC virtually over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licences to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services, to Nigeria.

Having made substantial progress in the discussion, the commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects,” they said.

The NCC stated that it has listened to SpaceX’s presentation and will review it vis-à-vis its regulatory direction of ensuring an effective and sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees.

“As the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest,” they said.

NCC added that broadband penetration of 70% which covers 90% of the population is the FG’s target in its National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025. This is also in line with its National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.

What you should know

Starlink is an internet service launched by SpaceX to improve internet coverage in rural and underserved areas globally. Starlink satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet.

Nairametrics also reported this month that the  Federal Government announced a deal with Microsoft through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy for the development of high-speed internet infrastructure across the six regions in the country.

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