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Fintech and Bitcoin get special track at AfricaCom

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Debuting this year at AfricaCom are a range of talks, presentations, case studies and prospects around Fintech and eCommerce, designed to inform and push the boundaries of invention.

AfricaCom 2017 has added a specific track focusing on Africa’s financial digital fluency.  Debuting this year at the continent’s single largest and most influential technology, media and telecoms event, are a range of talks, presentations, case studies and prospects around Fintech and eCommerce, designed to inform and push the boundaries of invention.

The 20th staging of AfricaCom takes place from 7 to 9 November in Cape Town.

“More than ever before, AfricaCom 2017 will provide the ability for Africa to shape itself for the future, drive itself forward and serve as an example for other economies looking to get ahead, as Africa’s innovation often leads, not follows,” says Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director of AfricaCom organiser KNect365.

“Digital disruption equals digital democracy and nowhere will this be more keenly felt than in the ability for all levels of society to engage in the monetary exchange and rewards that fin-tech can provide. For this reason, we have developed a detailed stream of content to appeal to all players in the financial value chain – from developers, payment partners, retailers and end users. It is a must for any business looking to transact online.”

It’s a wide open and thoroughly exciting time for players in this market to disrupt the status quo and champion more equality and opportunity, agrees Shirley Gilbey,  Head of Rise and Co-Creation at Barclays Africa Group Limited, who is responsible for driving partnership with the world’s best and brightest start-ups and experts to create the future of Barclays Africa and who will deliver a keynote address on Wednesday, 8 November 2017 12:10 – 12:30.

Also on the agenda at AfricaCom, are a host of discussions and debates such as a look into future mobile payments trends, the uptake of wearables, near-field-communications (nfc) and M-Pos that are driving the global mobile payment market.

Not to be excluded from the conversation, retailers are also realising the fruits of digital and mobile payments.  A panel discussion on how retailers can incorporate eCommerce as a central strategy will explore greater insights into customer profiles and preferences; examine whether the consumer is driving their own experience or not, and, where that leaves retailers in the communications and trading mix. In another, but related discussion, the question of reward and redemption will be tackled by speakers like Peter Miller, head of Retail at wiGroup and Andreas Demeleitner, Peach Payments.

While much has been done to include the previously unbanked, still more has to happen to truly realise an economic democracy.  Things like mobile money and decentralised virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Blockchain are going a long way to addressing these needs, and disrupting global markets, What’s next? Is Bitcoin the digital version of Gold?  It’s not hard to see how these technologies can be deployed in Africa, a continent that has famously leapfrogged many technological stages, but is it enough? To find out, delegates will hear from the likes of Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and Founder of BitPesa, a pan-African digital FX and payment platform.

On the other side of the coin, disruptors like Abraham Cambridge, founder of The Sun Exchange, are using crypto-currencies to create new paradigms in powering Africa using solar energy to spark positive change.

But to define the real opportunities in Africa for blockchain, delegates will be invited to hear from a panel of experts that include South Africa’s foremost blockchain expert, Lorien Gamaroff, founder of blockchain and cryptocurrency consultancy BankyMoon.  Lucien has addressed the IMF, World Bank, FBI and Commonwealth Secretariat, the South African Reserve Bank, TEDx and a host of banking professionals and attorney generals throughout the world. He offers insight and guidance to business executives and advises government on blockchain technologies and their implications. Many of these he will share at AfricaCom 2017.

Africa is in the throes of a technological revolution, with increasing access to the digisphere through the Internet and mobile phones, changing the lives of ordinary Africans everywhere. The rapid acceptance of digital technologies across Africa presents real opportunities for development and economic growth across the continent, not only modifying all sectors of the African economy, but triggering a radical transformation of the entire society.

AfricaCom 2017 is therefore, an essential resource for enterprises, start-ups and entrepreneurs alike, to become financially fluent in the digital age.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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