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Why Nigerian fintech, Theeper, is shutting down after raising $2.1 million



Why Nigerian fintech, Theeper, is shutting down after raising $2.1 million

One of Nigerian fintechs, Theeper, is shutting its operations nearly two years after raising $2.1 million in a Seed round.

The company’s founders cited compliance issues as one of the main reasons they decided to wind down. They also blamed it on the slow acceptance of wallets as a viable payment option in Nigeria contrary to their expectations at the beginning of the business.

In an uncommon gesture in the history of Nigerian startups that have shut down in recent times, the founders said they would be returning unspent capital to their investors. They, however, did not disclose the amount to be returned to the investors.

Theeper’s Seed round had participation from angel investors, institutional investors, and other investors like Ezra Olubi, Byld Ventures, and Stitch.

Theeper’s sunset
Announcing the decision to shut down the company via a statement released on Monday, Theeper’s founders—Kosisochukwu Chike Ononye (CEO) and Michael Okoh (CTO), said:

“April 1st holds significant meaning for us. Is it a day of playful pranks, or a nod to our founding date? Perhaps a subtle homage to Apple’s beginnings. Yet, regrettably, it also marks the sunset of our journey.
“We embarked on a mission to create something unprecedented, a unique method for transferring money between digital wallets and making payments for goods and services directly from these wallets. Yet, we soon realized that exceptional technology alone wasn’t sufficient.
“Our unique service had its challenges, the first being compliance issues that hindered us from launching key wallet providers or maintaining their services.
“Additionally, the overall acceptance of wallets as a viable payment option didn’t grow as rapidly as we had hoped, this meant we had to spend a lot of time and resources educating people about what we do.
“Faced with these challenges, we needed to make a key decision either to do a hard pivot, an M&A or return capital to investors. After carefully weighing our options, we decided that returning the remaining capital to investors was the best decision.”
“We could not align our product with the market’s needs at our current size and scale. What does this mean for our customers? Thepeer will be placed on maintenance mode for the interim. We’ll work to maintain the platform for as long as possible until we discover a new home for it,” they added.
What you should know
The API startup launched its beta in April 2021 to enable users of one fintech platform to send money directly to a user on another fintech platform.

For instance, using Thepeer, a user could send money from Cowrywise to Eversend without passing through a bank account. Later on, the company moved on to building solutions for businesses—Direct Charge, a pull payment product and Checkout, an online payment gateway.

In June 2022, the company closed a Seed round of $2.1 million led by the Raba partnership, a VC firm that invested in Flutterwave and Stitch.

By June 2022 when the company closed its $2.1 million Seed round, Thepeer said it achieved an average transaction growth of 161% month-on-month (MoM) processing millions of dollars. As the business grew the company tapped Geneza Brands to rebrand in May 2023, perhaps in preparation for expansion.

They had hinted at expansion to Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt during their seed round announcement. However, the process of educating people on the need for wallet interoperability, and convincing them to switch or complement their payment service providers with their solution took time and resources.


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Cyber alert: How to safeguard online accounts, by NCC



Telecommunication regulatory body in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is not only concern about creating enabling

Telecommunication regulatory body in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is not only concern about creating enabling environments for the stakeholders in the industry to thrive, it is also very mindful of the need for the subscribers to enjoy the services being provided and how best they can secure themselves from cyber attacks.

On a regular basis, the NCC do educate Nigerian telecom subscribers by giving value adding tips on what the industry can give them.

The latest tips from the NCC was on cyber attacks and how the subscribers can safeguard their online accounts through creation of strong passwords.

The PAPERS reports that a cyber attack is a set of actions performed by threat actors, who try to gain unauthorized access, steal data or cause damage to computers, computer networks, or other computing systems. A cyber attack can be launched from any location. The attack can be performed by an individual or a group using one or more tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).

Password on the other hand is a string of characters that allows access to a computer system or service. Each user has a password in order to log on to the network.

The NCC on its official Facebook handle warned subscribers to always go for a strong password in order to safeguard unauthorized access to the data on their phones.

“Safeguard your online accounts (banks, digital media and others) by creating strong and complex passwords,” the NCC says.

If you have a strong and complex passwords in place, you are guarding against cyber attackers who have the intentional effort to steal, expose, alter, disable, or destroy data, applications, or other assets through unauthorized access to your network, computer system or digital device.


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Google approaches $2 trillion valuation with record high stock price



Alphabet, the parent company of Google, soared to its highest-ever share price on Tuesday, riding the crest of the artificial

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, soared to its highest-ever share price on Tuesday, riding the crest of the artificial intelligence (AI) wave to achieve a historic valuation.

The stock surged to an all-time intraday peak of $159.89 per share before settling at a closing price of $158.14, marking a 1.3% gain amid modest broader market losses.

This milestone propelled Alphabet’s total market value to $1.95 trillion, edging it closer to the $2 trillion mark. This elite $2 trillion club currently includes only American tech giants such as Microsoft, Apple, and Nvidia, alongside Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabia-controlled oil behemoth.

Alphabet’s recent ascent is underpinned by a 13% increase in its share price year-to-date and an impressive 77% leap since the end of 2022. These gains were fueled by record profits stemming from robust advertising spending and investor optimism surrounding the company’s AI potential.

Wall Street analysts anticipate Alphabet’s continued rise, with an average price target of $166 implying a $2.1 trillion market capitalization, Forbes first reported.

What you should know
Despite Alphabet’s stellar performance, its annualized return on investment over the past decade stands at 19%, trailing its trillion-dollar peers such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, and Nvidia, which have achieved over 20% annualized returns. This divergence reflects market sentiment towards Alphabet’s AI offerings, though recent developments suggest improving sentiment as Google emerges as a frontrunner in generative AI.

Looking ahead, investors await Alphabet’s first-quarter earnings report later this month, with analysts anticipating a record Q1 profit of nearly $19 billion. This will provide a further insight into Alphabet’s trajectory and its continued evolution as a dominant force in the tech landscape, driven by its innovative AI-driven initiatives and resilient advertising revenue.

In February Google faced a $90 billion drop in market valuation, largely due to its Gemini AI service generating inaccurate racial images of historical people. Its share price fell through 4.5% at $138.75.

Alphabet Inc., an American technology conglomerate and holding company, was established in 2015 through the strategic reorganization of Google and its diverse subsidiaries. Functioning as Google’s parent entity, Alphabet embodies Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s vision for ongoing technological advancement across various domains such as healthcare, entertainment, transportation, venture capital financing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The restructuring aimed to streamline Google’s core business operations while providing greater autonomy to other businesses under Alphabet’s umbrella.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from their executive roles in December 2019, with Sundar Pichai assuming the CEO position, overseeing both Google and Alphabet. Despite their resignations, Page and Brin remain actively involved as employees, board members, and controlling shareholders of Alphabet Inc.

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Itel launches new S24 smartphone in Nigeria



itel launches new S24 smartphone in Nigeria

In a world where memories are made and shared through the lens of a smartphone, itel launches an exciting new device that will take your photography game to the next level. Introducing the itel S24 smartphone, a groundbreaking device equipped with a stunning 108MP ultra-clear camera. With this pocket-sized powerhouse, you can now capture life’s finest moments with unmatched clarity and precision.

The itel S24’s 108MP camera also introduces 3X single lens zoom shooting technology, AI portrait mode, and improved AI beauty features. You can capture both near and far-away scenes with remarkable clarity, enhance the natural beauty of your subjects, and adjust facial details intelligently. Low-light photography is elevated with the Super Flash Light and Super Night mode, allowing you to capture stunning images even in dark environments.

Not only does the S24 excel in photography, but it also offers an array of video features. With video beauty mode, HDR mode, steady video, and film templates, your videos will have a movie-like texture, enhanced quality, stable presentation, and creative effects.

Powered by the MediaTek Helio G91 processor, the itel S24 delivers super-smooth performance and fast app loading. The 90Hz 6.6-inch HD punch-hole display provides a stunning visual experience, and the large 5000mAh battery with 18W fast charging ensures uninterrupted power throughout the day. Its stylish appearance, inspired by nature, is a fusion of technology and aesthetics.

The itel S24 smartphone is not just a device; it’s a gateway to captivating photography and endless possibilities. Whether you’re a student, a photography enthusiast, or a professional, the itel S24 is designed to meet your needs and amplify your social interactions. Express your unique style, capture unforgettable moments, and unleash your creativity with the new itel S24 smartphone.

About itel:
Established over 10 years ago, itel is a reliable smart life brand for everyone. Adopting “Enjoy Better Life” as its brand philosophy, itel’s mission is to provide budget-friendly consumer electronic products and lifestyle products for everyone. It democratizes technology by giving entry to technology and connectedness to consumers without prior access to it. After more than 10 years’ development, itel has expanded its presence in more than 50 emerging markets globally. itel has a product portfolio of smartphones, TV, accessories, electrics, home appliance, laptop, and lifestyle products. In 2022, it ranked No.1 Global Smartphone brand under $100 and No.1 Feature Phone brand.


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MTN Group to sell 75% stake in Areeba Guinea



MTN Group to sell 75% stake in Areeba Guinea

MTN Group Limited has said that its subsidiary, MTN Dubai Limited, has agreed to sell a 75 per cent stake in Areeba Guinea S.A to Telecel Group.

The telecom operator said in a statement that the sale aligned with its strategy of optimising its portfolio of assets, as outlined in its ‘Ambition 2025 Strategy’.

The agreement, though initiated, has not yet reached completion, pending the satisfactory fulfilment of the prerequisites outlined in the deal.

Among these prerequisites are regulatory and other approvals required from relevant authorities in Guinea, the telecom firm clarified.

“MTN will continue to work and cooperate with the relevant regulatory authorities to ensure that all the appropriate requirements for transactions of this nature are addressed.

“MTN wishes to reassure our customers in Guinea that the ongoing transaction will not affect the services offered to them,” it stated.

Areeba Guinee SA is an internet service provider that operates in Guinea. Currently, it ranks third out of 16 service providers in Guinea.

MTN entered the Guinean market when it bought the Areeba brand from Lebanese operator Investcom in 2007.

Telecel Group, founded by Miko Rwayitare in 1986, had recently announced securing $20m to bolster its operations in West Africa.

The African-focused telecommunications company operates in more than 27 countries, including Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Chad, with a customer base exceeding six million active users.

In a strategic move to enhance its presence, Telecel Group expanded Vodafone Ghana’s network infrastructure in October 2023, introducing 300 new 4G sites across the country, many of which are already operational.


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Banks need data, infrastructure to maximise AI opportunities – Experts



Banks need data, infrastructure to maximise AI opportunities – Experts

Experts have said that banks must prioritise the acquisition of data, infrastructure, and technology to fully explore the potential of Artificial Intelligence.

They spoke in separate interviews with The PUNCH while making observations on how AI can revolutionise the banking industry.

The co-founder at Alty, Leo Goriev, in a chat with The PUNCH, noted that AI holds immense promise for financial and banking product development, particularly in transforming customer experience, which is the ultimate measure of success for any business.

He said, “Realising this potential demands that organisations possess a robust foundation of data, infrastructure, technology, and knowledge.”

According to Goriev, by analysing data about users’s behaviour and their preferences, a mobile application with integrated AI can provide recommendations for financial health improvement, savings planning, and efficient fund usage.

He added, “While AI is becoming increasingly prevalent in many sectors, there are doubts about its ability to completely replace human functions.

“Despite the fact that AI is rapidly penetrating various industries, we also maintain a level of scepticism regarding certain AI features claiming to replace human functions, particularly in business audits.”

On his part, the Head of Digital Banking and Alternative Channels at Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait, Ahmed EL-Nazer, observed that the prominence of AI tools for analysing customer behaviour and detecting fraud has grown significantly.

He said, “While the results thus far have been promising, it’s crucial to understand that these tools require careful utilisation and training.

Contrary to the notion of a simple plug-and-play solution, effective use of AI demands expertise and a nuanced approach. That’s why it’s imperative to acknowledge the associated challenges and drawbacks.”

Nearly 43 per cent of banking and investment firms say they are currently using or experimenting with AI technologies, according to 2023 research from consulting firm Gartner.

AI requires large amounts of data to function effectively, and banks have an abundance of data at their disposal.

A recent McKinsey report also confirms that generative AI has the potential to contribute up to $340bn in annual value to the sector, representing a 15 per cent increase in operating profits.

The report predicted that the most significant gains would be seen in corporate and retail banking, which was why companies were concentrating on leveraging large language models to enhance software development and customer service through virtual assistants.


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Elon Musk announces Tesla will unveil its ‘robotaxi’ this summer



Elon Musk has long had an affinity for self-driving vehicles, claiming they will be one of Tesla’s most important products. Despite big promises, years have gone by without cars that can, so far, drive on their own.

But Musk, on a Friday afternoon, when companies tend to bury news, announced on X that Tesla would unveil its robotaxi on August 8.

His post was simple and included no details. “Tesla Robotaxi unveil on 8/8,” the Tesla CEO (and owner of X) posted.

Musk has said in the past that Tesla will make a car without controls for a human to use. He has also said in the past that Tesla cars equipped with Full Self-Driving Capability will, through software updates, gradually become better and better at driving. At some point, the cars will be capable of operating as fully autonomous taxis and could earn money for their owners by giving taxi rides on their own, Musk has repeatedly said.

So far, the company has passed several of Musk’s predictions for when actual self-driving would be possible.

Tesla five years ago, in April 2019, said it expected to begin operating robotaxis by 2020. The company predicted the autonomous cars would last 11 years and drive 1 million miles, making the company and the car’s operators $30,000 in profit each year.

But Musk also acknowledged that his track record for predictions can be off – sometimes by a mile.

“The only criticism and it’s a fair one, sometimes I’m not on time. But I get it done and the Tesla team gets it done,” Musk said at the April 2019 event.

Currently, Full Self-Driving capability can be purchased with a new Tesla Model 3, for instance, for an additional $12,000 added to the car’s roughly $40,000 purchase price. It can be also be purchased on a subscription basis for up to $199 a month, depending on how the car was originally equipped.

In small gray type, Tesla’s on-line description points out, “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” meaning that it is not, in fact, capable of fully self-driving today.

Musk has said the system will one day make Tesla cars incredibly valuable.

“You can think of every car we sell or produce that has full autonomy capability as something that in the future may be worth five times what it is today,” he said in the company’s earnings call for the third quarter last year.

Experts who have tested the system say that, as of now, it is still far from being able to drive on its own without human intervention.

Kelly Funkhouser, associate director of vehicle technology for Consumer Reports, recently tested the system and said she’s less worried about its safety than she is about ordinary Tesla Autopilot, which is designed to provide more limited driving assistance mainly on highways.

Ironically, that’s because the Full Self-Driving technology performs so poorly. Funkhouser described it as like giving control of your car to a novice teen driver.

“You’re not likely to tune out and become complacent or over-reliant on it,” she said. “In fact, I would say you’re potentially more alert.”

A number of companies, including Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, as well as GM subsidiary Cruise, are working on autonomous ride-sharing services.

Cruise has paused its testing work after one of its self-driving cars hit and dragged a pedestrian. An internal review found that company representatives had failed to be fully open with regulators about the incident. The company is being investigated by the Department of Justice over the incident.

Waymo recently had to recall its own cars after two of its cars hit the same tow truck within minutes of one another.


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