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MTN Group Brand Value Skyrockets to $2.7 Billion

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MTN Group Brand Value Skyrockets To $2.7bn, SiliconNigeria

MTN Group has been named the most valuable African brand in the Brand Finance Africa 150 rankings, which assigned the group a brand value of $2.7 billion – $1.0 billion above the next most valuable brand.

Brand value is defined as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

A report on the 2021 survey’s findings states that the telecoms giant dominates on home soil too, this year holding onto its decade-long reign as South Africa’s most valuable brand. 

According to Brand Finance Africa, the value of the continent’s top 150 brands fell by a combined $5.5 billion in 2021, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic creating uncertainty and impacting brands’ ability to do business as usual, adding that in 2020, it had assigned MTN a brand value of $3.3 billion.

MTN Group CEO, Ralph Mupita said the latest accolades were achieved thanks to the hard work of MTNers across the continent and their commitment to bringing to everyone in 17 African markets the benefits of a modern connected life.

“We are both humbled and inspired by the confidence our customers and broader stakeholders continue to place in the MTN brand. At the core, a brand is about exceeding promises, expectations and delivering true value.

“MTNers know this is the work that needs to be done every day, everywhere, as we remain focused on our core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life,” Mupita said.

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Crypto-currencies and Blockchain

Nigeria’s Crypto Investors Have “Good Financial Habits”, says Luno

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Nigeria’s Crypto Investors Have “Good Financial Habits” says Luno, SiliconNigeria

Luno, the leading global cryptocurrency company, has revealed in a new online global survey that only 2% of Nigerian cryptocurrency investors surveyed do not have a plan when making investment decisions, delivering a groundbreaking insight into how consumers manage the investment risks attached to the country’s growing wave of crypto adoption.

The findings emerged when respondents were asked which statement best describes their investment approach with 36% saying they react to market changes and invest where they feel comfortable, a further 31% stating they limit speculative investments to a small percentage of their funds and 29% describing their approach as having a plan and sticking to it.  

The survey, which included nearly 7,000 respondents from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, UK, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia, not only found cryptocurrency investors in Nigeria to be financially-savvy, but also to be investing for sensible and long-term goals.

Almost three quarters (74%) of Nigeria’s crypto investors say the most important purpose of having money to them is to secure the wellbeing of their family and leading uses for returns on investments amongst Nigerian adults willing to invest their salary in cryptocurrency included paying for children’s education (45%), savings for a home deposit (43%) or to establish a fund to pass onto their grandchildren/children (40%).

The trend of a focus on long-term goals was further supported by the fact that nearly three in ten Nigerian investors held their crypto between one month and a year (27%), refuting the “get-rich-quick” perception which can be associated with the industry. 

 Speaking on the findings, Owen Odia, Luno’s Country Manager for Nigeria, says, “The massive scale of crypto adoption in Nigeria has been well documented over the last few years, but in recent months, the conversation has shifted to a much more pressing issue – are consumers handling this transition to investing in a cryptocurrency, safely? These findings should provide a major boost of confidence that the average crypto investor in Nigeria has sensible investment habits and reasonable financial goals, which dispels a lot of the myths and stereotypes currently surrounding them.”

“However, this doesn’t mean discussions about protecting crypto consumers in Nigeria should stop here. Our aim is that this research progresses the debate about the current state of crypto regulation in the country so we can work closely with the authorities to establish a robust framework that further minimises the risk exposure for consumers.”

Across the countries surveyed, Nigeria had the highest number of people who conducted thorough research before investing in cryptocurrencies (61%) with Kenya and South Africa ranked at 56% and 48% respectively. Over the next five years, Nigerians are also the most willing to invest some of their salary in cryptocurrencies (81% compared to 67% in Kenya and 63% in South Africa). 

Luno’s research also shows that cryptocurrency holders across the globe aren’t singularly focussed on digital currencies. In fact, they are much more likely than their peers to save and invest in other asset classes. The overwhelming majority (78%) of cryptocurrency investors save regularly, versus approximately two-thirds of the general population (65%). 

Not only do crypto investors save regularly, but they are also much more likely to hold diverse portfolios. Adopters of cryptocurrencies globally are also much more likely to hold other types of financial assets including bonds (19% v 10%) and even gold (25% v 14%). 

Kenfield Griffith, CEO and Founder of Ajua, Africa’s first integrated customer experience company for businesses, adds, “As the growth of fintech brings more transactions online in Africa, it’s vital that businesses go the extra mile to understand the habits and reasons behind their customers’ behaviour as there’s a huge growth opportunity to be unlocked. These findings from Luno should not only provide them with greater assurances about the safety of their customers, but should also put them in a much stronger position to optimise the customer experience on their platform and deliver more services that help their users achieve their financial goals.” 

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Innovations

Clubhouse Launches New Features to Enhance Community Experiences

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Clubhouse Launches New Features to Enhance Community Experiences, SiliconNigeria

Clubhouse, the social audio app, has launched a number of features to enhance community experiences for creators and users. These features include Universal Search, Clips and Spatial Audio for Android.

The app will also add a feature called Replay in early October. The new features will make finding and sharing rooms, creators, and clubs easier for users. They will also assist creators to grow their audiences on and off the platform.

The features come in the wake of 1 billion Backchannel messages – direct messaging – sent between users since the feature was launched mid-July.

Universal Search

Through Universal Search, users can now search for rooms on Clubhouse. The number of average rooms created daily continue to climb, increasing from 300,000 beginning of May to 700,000 at the end of September. Universal Search will allow users to search for people, clubs, live rooms, and future events more quickly to discover any breaking news or interest and to find rooms about specific things happening in the world.

Universal Search is rolling out on iOS and Android starting today. For the first week or two it will stay in the Explore tab while the community provides feedback to continually improve the search results. Thereafter it will move to the hallway.

Clips
Clips makes it easier for creators to share great moments and grow their audiences on Clubhouse. Clips — rolling out today in beta — will allow anyone to share 30-second clips of public rooms, so more people on the Internet can discover and join different clubs. When creators start a room, they can choose whether they want clips enabled. Clips will be on by default for open/public rooms, and creators can toggle them off anytime. The feature is not available for private, social or club rooms. When enabled, users will be able to grab a Clip of the past 30 seconds. This lets them share a preview of the room with others or capture an incredible moment that just happened. People can share Clips of a show to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, iMessage, or WhatsApp — and even save them to their camera rolls for quick editing first. Clips is rolling out in beta to a small group of creators starting today.

Replays

Replays will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Creators will choose whether they want Replays enabled when they start a room. If the feature is on, the room will be discoverable on Clubhouse for as long as creators like — and available for them to download and share anywhere.

Replays make it trivially easy to create great audio content, get discovered by others, and grow audience over time.

Spatial Audio for Android

Spatial Audio, the feature that makes community members feel like they’re more immersed in the conversation or room they’re listening to by making the speakers sound like they’re spaced throughout the room, is being introduced to Android users to further enhance the audio improvements for all users.

Clubhouse Brings Spatial Audio to Android to Enhance Community Experiences

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Crypto-currencies and Blockchain

Crypto Boom Poses New Challenges to Financial Stability

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Crypto Boom Poses New Challenges to Financial Stability, SiliconNigeria

By Dimitris Drakopoulos, Fabio Natalucci, and Evan Papageorgiou

As crypto assets take hold, regulators need to step up.

Crypto assets offer a new world of opportunities: Quick and easy payments. Innovative financial services. Inclusive access to previously “unbanked” parts of the world. All are made possible by the crypto ecosystem.

But along with the opportunities come challenges and risks. The latest Global Financial Stability Report describes the risks posed by the crypto ecosystem and offers some policy options to help navigate this uncharted territory.

The Crypto Ecosystem—What Is It, What’s at Risk?

The total market value of all the crypto assets surpassed $2 trillion as of September 2021—a 10-fold increase since early 2020. An entire ecosystem is also flourishing, replete with exchanges, wallets, miners, and stablecoin issuers.

Many of these entities lack strong operational, governance, and risk practices. Crypto exchanges, for instance, have faced significant disruptions during periods of market turbulence. There are also several high-profile cases of hacking-related thefts of customer funds. So far, these incidents have not had a significant impact on financial stability. However, as crypto assets become more mainstream, their importance in terms of potential implications for the wider economy is set to increase.

Consumer protection risks remain substantial given limited or inadequate disclosure and oversight. For example, more than 16,000 tokens have been listed in various exchanges and around 9,000 exist today, while the rest have disappeared in some form. For example, many of them have no volumes or the developers have walked away from the project. Some were likely created solely for speculation purposes or even outright fraud.

The (pseudo) anonymity of crypto assets also creates data gaps for regulators and can open unwanted doors for money laundering, as well as terrorist financing. Although authorities may be able to trace illicit transactions, they may not be able to identify the parties to such transactions. Additionally, the crypto ecosystem falls under different regulatory frameworks in different countries, making coordination more challenging. For example, most transactions on crypto exchanges happen through entities that operate primarily in offshore financial centers. This makes supervision and enforcement not only challenging, but nearly impossible without international collaboration.

Stablecoins—which aim to peg their value usually against the US dollar—are also growing at lightning speed, with their supply climbing 4-fold throughout 2021 to reach $120 billion. The term “stablecoin,” however, captures a very diverse group of crypto assets and can be misleading. Given the composition of their reserves, some stablecoins could be subject to runs, with knock-on effects to the financial system. The runs could be driven by investor concerns about the quality of their reserves or the speed at which reserves can be liquidated to meet potential redemptions.

Significant challenges ahead

Although the extent of the adoption of crypto assets is difficult to measure, surveys and other measures suggest that emerging market and developing economies may be leading the way. Most notably, residents in these countries increased their trading volumes in crypto exchanges sharply in 2021.

Looking ahead, widespread and rapid adoption can pose significant challenges by reinforcing dollarization forces in the economy—or in this case cryptoization—where residents start using crypto assets instead of the local currency. Cryptoization can reduce the ability of central banks to effectively implement monetary policy. It could also create financial stability risks, for example through funding and solvency risks arising from currency mismatches, as well as amplify the importance of some of the previously mentioned risks to consumer protection and financial integrity.

Threats to fiscal policy could also intensify, given the potential for crypto assets to facilitate tax evasion. And seigniorage (the profits accruing from the right to issue currency) may also decline. Increased demand for crypto assets could also facilitate capital outflows that impact the foreign exchange market.

Finally, a migration of crypto “mining” activity out of China to other emerging market and developing economies can have an important impact on domestic energy use—especially in countries that rely on more C02-intensive forms of energy, as well as those that subsidize energy costs—given the large amount of energy needed for mining activities.

Policy action

As a first step, regulators and supervisors need to be able to monitor rapid developments in the crypto ecosystem and the risks they create by swiftly tackling data gaps. The global nature of crypto assets means that policymakers should enhance cross-border coordination to minimize the risks of regulatory arbitrage and ensure effective supervision and enforcement.

National regulators should also prioritize the implementation of existing global standards. Standards focused on crypto assets are currently mostly limited to money laundering and proposals on bank exposures. However, other international standards—in areas such as securities regulation, as well as payments, clearing and settlements may also be applicable and need attention.

As the role of stablecoins grows, regulations should be proportionate to the risks they pose and the economic functions they serve. For example, rules should be aligned with entities that provide similar products (e.g., bank deposits or money market funds).

In some emerging markets and developing economies, cryptoization can be driven by weak central bank credibility, vulnerable banking systems, inefficiencies in payment systems and limited access to financial services. Authorities should prioritize strengthening macroeconomic policies and consider the benefits of issuing central bank digital currencies and improving payment systems. Central bank digital currencies may help reduce cryptoization pressures if they help satisfy a need for better payment technologies.

Globally, policymakers should prioritize making cross-border payments faster, cheaper, more transparent and inclusive through the G20 Cross Border Payments Roadmap.

Time is of the essence, and action needs to be decisive, swift and well-coordinated globally to allow the benefits to flow but, at the same time, also address the vulnerabilities.

Culled from imf.org

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