Pan-African bank Ecobank launched its new mobile app early this week in Lagos, following on from the recent launch of the Ecobank Masterpass QR, which enables in-store payments using QR codes for smartphones and codes for feature phones. In combination, the app and Masterpass will work across 33 countries, allowing customers to make instant payments across the network and to pay in-store using their mobile phones. Ecobank's Nigerian managing director Charles Kié hailed Nigeria as "a leading hub for entrepreneurship and technology for Ecobank". Read more about these developments here.
Ecobank's move is part of a broad push towards digitisation in Africa, opening up potentially enormous opportunities for merchants and retailers — we titled a recent Lafferty conference panel as 'Financial Inclusion for Merchants' due to the potential for digital technology to promote microenterprises. In Kenya, where mobile money first opened the eyes of the world to the potential of mobile-based finance, Equity Bank is now moving rapidly to take advantage of digitisation. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Group, explains the purpose of developing interoperability — a sore point for mPesa, which controls its ecosystem but fails on interoperability. Watch the short video clip here, courtesy of CNBC Africa.
Despite the enthusiasm in Dublin for the re-location there of UK-based financial institutions, the more immediate impact on Ireland has been drastic. Irish businesses have been taking a battering following the Brexit vote as the drop in Sterling afflicts the country's many exporters — and that's before serious conversations about the potential restoration of a 'hard border' between the Republic and Northern Ireland begin. Bank of Ireland has not escaped the trauma: "Shares in the company are down around 30 per cent since the June 23 vote," the FT reports. "In a third quarter trading statement on Thursday, the bank said sterling weakness would hit the bank's reported balance sheet assets and liabilities as well as its UK profits when translated into euros."
Missing out on voice-based money transfer? Hype or reality? OCBC and N26 are diving in. "Apple iPhone-toting customers of Berlin-based challenger bank N26 can now pay their friends with a simple voice command to Siri", according to Finextra. Meanwhile, OCBC is also introducing Siri-based voice commands. Lafferty News finds that Siri is a little simple-minded and only understands half of what it's instructed to do. A "simple voice command to Siri" doesn't necessarily mean that Siri 'understands', and the instruction may have to be repeated several times while Siri responds, "Sorry, I didn't understand what you said".
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