The Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) has warned that market imbalances between network operators and online service providers could stall growth in several sectors of the internet-based economy, and called on politicians to urgently address the issue.
In its GSMA 2022 Internet Value Chain report, the trade association noted factors including asymmetric regulation and restrictions, sector-specific taxes, and spectrum costs are squeezing the business models of infrastructure providers whilst allowing big tech to thrive.
The body noted that those in charge of setting laws and regulations must consider the interdependence of online services and other growth sectors on the underlying infrastructure investment.
In a recent statement obtained online by the Press, its Chairman, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, said “growing recognition of this issue by policymakers is important, especially as the Internet-based economy expands across all sectors over the next decade”.
The report encouraged decision makers to consider the full landscape of taxation and regulation.
It also advised companies investing in infrastructure to build and upgrade the networks, which underpin online services.
The study found revenue across the internet value chain doubled in five years, from $3.3 trillion in 2015 to $6.7 trillion in 2020, noting that much of this growth comes from online services, revenue from which increased 19 per cent per year in 2020.
However, the return on investment in infrastructure for network operators was far lower, at between six per cent and 11 per cent.
The GSMA noted that operators are receiving less than 10 per cent returns on capital because of pressure to invest up to 20 per cent of revenue in capex.
It stressed that the growth was relentless, adding that there is much more to go.
“The number of people with access to the internet has reached 4.6 billion in 2020 (via either fixed or mobile networks), an increase of 44 per cent since 2015 and a yearly growth rate of 7.5 per cent.
Ekiti Poll: Improve On BVAS Innovation, Group Urges INEC
A socio-cultural group, the Ladies of Substance, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the innovation of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to ensure it performs optimally during the 2023 elections.
The group’s Team Lead, Mrs Mojisola Akinbohun, told The Tide’s source in Ado-Ekiti recently that it would make future elections in Nigeria to be credible.
Akinbohun said the use of BVAS for Ekiti election showed a significant improvement over the previous elections.
“This is a great opportunity for INEC to showcase its preparedness for the 2023 general elections with the test of functionality and effectiveness of the BVAS. I commend INEC for its quick response to resolving all challenges observed during the election in Ekiti,” she said.
Akinbohun disclosed that the group had deployed its members to monitor the election across some loycal Government Areas for independent monitoring.
She said that there were tremendous improvements in the timely arrival of election materials to the polling units as well as responses to any issue raised by the electorate.
The team lead said the group, however, observed cases of vote buying during the election, adding that it remains a monster in the electoral system in the country, which must be checked.
Akinbohun also commended the electorate that shunned and resisted attempts and temptations to sell their votes to political agents during the election in the state, and lauded the security for their presence, which ensured utmost calm and peace within and around the polling units and some local governments visited by the group.
The Team Lead said the group observed that there was an impressive turnout across the council areas the group monitored.
She commended the people of Ekiti for their maturity, especially for putting behind the string of violence and not entertaining fears against early predictions that the election might be marred by violence.
Firm Wants Blockchain For Dispute Resolution
A Fintech Software Engineer ing Firm, Appzone, has called on banks to adopt blockchain technology for increased visibility and transparency to resolve dispute claims between customers and financial institutions.
Co-founder of Appzone, Mr Uche Elendu, said in a statement that it was needed, with the increased rate of fraud and dispute claims between customers and financial institutions across Nigeria.
Elendu noted that the adoption of blockchain technology was not only to decentralise the process of moving money from one bank to the other .
According to him, it would help to increase the level of visibility and transparency of the procedure.
“As more Nigerians get financially included, customers have continued to move away from cash and checks toward electronic payments,” he said.
This trend, he said, is a positive development for banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to him, card and online transactions grow as well as the number of disputable transactions and the incidence of fraud, putting pressure on dispute processes.
“Financial institutions across the continent have continued to evolve, leveraging technology.They have metamorphosed from the days of a heavy analogue process to a more digitised era.
“With the continuous increase in the volume of banking transactions, it remains pertinent to continuously adopt newer and more sophisticated technology infrastructure to remain dependable, especially with payment settlements.
“For us at Appzone, we are firm believers in blockchain technology,” he said.
He continued that its decentralised nature not only made it faster, cheaper, and transparent, but also makes it sophisticated enough to enable real-time settlement.
Elendu said having rolled out Zone – Africa’s first blockchain platform for payment processing in 2021, partner banks that had onboarded have seen a drastic change in their payment settlement process.
He said that Zone’s innovative architecture would reduce complaints from customers and provide banks with an opportunity to deliver delightful experiences on payment channels while also driving down costs.
He further stated that it developed in line with Appzone’s recent evolution into a payment infrastructure company.
Noting that Zone is Africa’s first decentralised payment network.he said t allows inter-bank transactions to be processed directly between banks on the vlockchain without the involvement of any intermediary.
According to him, with Zone, players in the industry should expect a reliable and scalable payment network that enables frictionless and instant payments, within and between every African country.
The Tide’s source reports that Appzone Layer-1 Blockchain network digitises Fiat payments, and enables the transition to digital currencies while connecting previously excluded financial institutions into an all-inclusive payment ecosystem.
‘FinTechs Important In Ecosystem Growth In Africa’
A financial expert, Dr Segun Aina, says policy makers and financial regulators need to evolve with the growth in financial technology companies (FinTechs) space to establish a sustainable ecosystem and financial inclusion in African countries.
Aina said this at a two-day virtual forum of the 2022 Maiden CABS FinTech, organised by the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) in partnership with Africa Fintech Network (AFN).
The forum had the theme: “Opportunities and Challenges of FinTech Development in Africa.”
Aina, former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the future was bright for the continent, especially for the growth of FinTechs.
The banker said the AFN was committed to making contributions that would positively impact the growth of the ecosystem.
He noted that there was need to work directly with the Association of African Central Banks, particularly the committee of African banking supervisors to achieve such impact.
Aina said the financial subsector had recorded an unprecedented growth with huge investment, mostly by foreign investors.
He said FinTechs were trending with presence in different countries and also contributing to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“As people continue to embrace digital banking, FinTech startup became bigger in terms of valuation (market value) amid challenges of corporate governance”, he said.
According to him, this is evolving despite the opportunities that abound across the entire FinTech ecosystem in Africa.
Aina, however, noted that regulators were attempting to catch up to FinTech as they had realised the need to play in the digital innovation space.
He also said FinTechs and startups in the same space had gained prominence in the last 10 years, which was driven by advancement, enabled by internet and mobile phones.
This development, he said, had made banks to set up FinTech subsidiaries, while their former senior regulators serve on the boards of fintech companies.
The former CIBN boss said mobile money indicator showed that 500 million people subscribed to mobile phones in Africa and 245 million use mobile internet.
Aina also said the continent continued to record the highest year-on-year growth in internet penetration and with the support of funding from outside Africa.
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