|Amazon launches Fintech Lab in North Africa. The Lab’s goal is to provide a venue for a conversation on virtual payments and the Middle East’s fintech future. The Amazon Fintech Lab is run by Amazon Payment Services, a payment processing service for the Middle East and North Africa area which is located in the DIFC Innovation Hub, Dubai. FintechNews Middle East
|In December 2020, Amazon first announced the launch of their payment services in North Africa to enable businesses in the region to receive online payment services leveraging Amazon's technologies. The Fintech Lab has been launched to help encourage fintech innovation from the ecosystem of small companies, financial institutions, and early-stage startups.
|How much will 20,000 people pay M-Pesa for a week's worth of transactions? In this Twitter thread, BitcoinHackers.org, a Kenyan publication focused on decentralized finance, did a ballpark transaction fee comparison for Bitcoin transactions done by 20,000 people on the lightning network and M-Pesa mobile money network.
|High transaction fees remain one of the biggest impediments to the global adoption of Bitcoin as a medium of exchange. The introduction of the Bitcoin lightning network in 2015 has provided an innovative way to drop Bitcoin transaction fees to near-zero levels.
|Uganda unveils its first regulatory sandbox. The Bank of Uganda (BoU) unveiled a regulatory sandbox to assist fintech startups to develop new products and services. Ugandan financial technology firm, Wave Transfer Limited, is the first company to be admitted into the regulatory sandbox. The company received BoU’s approval to operate under the “Regulatory Sandbox Framework” on 12th April 2021. Kenyan Wallstreet
|On the 29th of May, 2020, the Ugandan Central Bank, Bank of Uganda (BoU) issued The National Payment Systems Act, 2020 (“NPS Act”) which was passed by parliament, and published on the 4th of September 2020. The Act provides for a regulatory sandbox framework that offers a space to test new technology in the financial services sector for a limited time without having to undergo the licensing route. You can read more about this here.
|South Africa plans to regulate cryptocurrency. According to a paper released by Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG), South Africa's financial regulator - Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) said it will start regulating crypto-assets "in a phased and structured approach". The IFWG recommended imposing anti-money laundering rules on crypto asset service providers, monitoring cross-border financial flows, and applying financial-sector laws to the crypto industry. CoinDesk
|Many crypto exchanges rely on fiat on-ramps (deposits) and off-ramps (withdrawal) channels which are relatively easy to regulate as seen in Nigeria. However, a significant amount of cryptocurrency activity still happens in informal decentralized networks which can be hard to track and hence regulate.
|The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to launch digital currency before the end of 2021. According to Rakiyat Mohammed, a director at the CBN, Nigeria may deploy a central bank digital currency (CBDC) before the end of 2021. This announcement comes just after CBN directed all financial institutions to stop processing funds on behalf of crypto platforms. According to Rakiyat/CBN, the creation of the CBDC is necessary as it would make it easier to make remittances into the country. Tech Cabal
|A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a digital form of currency issued by a country's central bank. Two key benefits of CBDCs to governments are that they would have better monetary control and also reduce the cost of printing cash. According to a 2019 CBN report, the cost of printing cash amounted to about N76b (~$185m) in 2019.
Nigerians have continued to actively engage in crypto-related activities in spite of strong regulatory opposition from the CBN. It is therefore interesting to see that the CBN has gone on to publicly clarify its stance and also announce plans to participate in the digital currency space via the issuance of CBDCs.
|Leaf Global Fintech, a Rwandan Startup Secures Funding from UNICEF. The Rwandan Virtual Banking startup has received $48,900 and ETH 20.69 ($51,700) for Leaf Wallet, its cross-border digital wallet. Leaf allows East African users to store money in multiple currencies, make low-cost remittances, pay for goods and services, and exchange currencies. The fund will be used to expand into three more African nations and form partnerships with banking institutions to incorporate the service into retail outlets. Afrikan Heroes
|In October 2019, UNICEF announced the launch of its Crypto donations fund, which will allow the UN body to receive, hold, and distribute donations made in blockchain-based digital assets, and It is interesting to see that part of this money received by Leaf Fintech was in cryptocurrency. The UNICEF Innovation Fund also invested in two other blockchain startups - Rumsan, and Xcapit, bringing the total investment value in the three blockchain startups to $300,000.
|Did you know?
Nigeria ranked #12 in finance apps downloads worldwide. According to a report by AppsFlyer, a leading app marketing analytics firm, Nigeria ranked # 12 in 15 countries with the most finance apps downloads between Q4'2020 and Q1'2021. The top 3 on the list were India, Brazil, Indonesia, with the United States at the fourth position. The top 3 accounted for over 50% of installs, and developing countries recorded 70% more installs than developed countries.
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