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Fintech: Your new way of banking after Covid-19

Ranine Awwad

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Fintech: Your new way of banking after Covid-19

Fintech allows you to perform all kinds of operations wherever and whenever you want. Financial technology is a tool that has been changing the way we work with money. The Fintech market will pin its worth at approximately $ 305.7 billion by 2023 according to the Global Fintech Market (2018-2023). Due to social distancing, Fintech is considered a lifeline for the economy during Covid-19 and will most likely, drive economy recovery after the pandemic.

Small businesses do not have accountants. Fintech allows a business owner to understand their finances, helping them make good decisions about when and where to invest their money. Many Fintech solutions provide online software that manages invoices, payroll, expenses, and even cash flow forecasting.

Fintech helps the unbanked join the formal economy; it is not about managing existing resources but creating new ones that help growth. Financial applications are used to withdraw money paid for remote working. However, some authorities have blocked these applications. Payoneer for example, has been used as an alternative for freelancers and businesses. However, in April 2020, the website has been blocked in Lebanon based on the order of the Lebanese judiciary.  In fact, the Fintech app can end the informal economy. Authorities cannot tax income they can’t see. Many Fintech services are not nationally recognized under government laws and regulations which means they would eventually operate outside conventional boundaries.

ZELF is a unique Fintech app that has been exclusively designed for ‘generation z’ with no application and no physical card. Users can transfer money to other ‘Zelfers’ or shop via a virtual MasterCard. ZELF is a messenger bank. After creating an account and clicking on the launch link, a new conversation with ZELF pops up and will be opened for money transfers and finances to be managed via WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram of Viber. Users will get their own IBAN account number and virtual card, which they will be able to use for money transfer. According to the innovation website Sifted, ZELF have already signed 350,000 users to its waiting list in France and Spain since April 2020.

As quick and efficient as they are, Fintech platforms have to earn the trust of their users. That is why many are collaborating with other platforms claiming end-to-end encryption, despite the huge debate about this tool. Since most of these apps are introducing biometric data security, your biological credentials might also be at risk from hackers.

Ranine joined Inside Telecom as an Investigative Journalist. Her extensive fieldwork and investigations shed light on many socio-economic issues. Over the past few years, she has transformed her key findings into in-depth analytical reports. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication.

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NTRA classifies Orange Egypt as a leading telecommunications services provider

Ranine Awwad

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The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has ranked Orange Egypt as first in the speed in data services according to Benchmarking Report No. 11 issued in May 2020. Four telecom operators – Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, and Telecom Egypt (WE) were evaluated based on international standards.

Orange Egypt outperformed in terms of the quality of data services in 51 areas with an average speed of 32 Mbps. On the other hand, the closest competitor reached an average speed of 28 Mbps in 22 regions.

The NTRA report shows that Orange Egypt provides distinctive data services in all areas of greater Cairo, new urban communities in East Cairo, and certain areas in West Cairo.

In fact, Orange has been working hard to provide the best services to its customers especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On July 5, 2020, Orange Egypt has announced its cooperation with Tabibi Clinics to provide healthcare support to Orange’s customers including tele-consultations, setting appointments for home visits by a doctor, or for clinic visits. The telecom operator customers will receive a 25% discount for Tabibi clinic services. Khalil Abdel-Khalek, Co-founder and CEO of Tabibi 24/7 said, “The Orange- Tabibi partnership enhances the role of technology in modernizing the performance of medical services,” according to Daily News Egypt. “This collaboration activates the role of telemedicine in developing the current situation to provide the best healthcare services for patients”, he said.

For football lovers, Orange Egypt has announced the launch of a new digital platform called “HareefLaLiga” which aims to provide LaLiga Football League fans with news and updates.

Furthermore, the telecom provider has also collaborated with Misr El Kheir foundation aiming to support irregular workers’ families during Ramadan. Disinfectants and sanitizers were distributed to thousands of families across 17 governorates including Aswan, Luxor, Halayeb, Qena, and Beni Suef.

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Iliad to collaborate with Open Fiber in Italy

Karim Hussami

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Iliad to collaborate with Open Fiber in Italy

Several companies are collaborating to take advantage of some markets in order to widen their business scope. This is certainly the case with the Italian connectivity market, which has inspired new interest amid the lockdown.

Iliad stormed its way into the Italian market by having a partnership with Open Fiber. “The collaboration with Iliad, which chose Open Fiber for its entry into the fixed market, is further confirmation of the validity of the neutral Open Fiber model,” said Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Open Fiber.

Therefore, the French provider of telecoms services struck a deal with Open Fiber, an Italian telecommunications company, giving Iliad access to Open Fiber’s infrastructure, or FTTH (Fiber to the x) network, to provide connectivity to 271 Italian cities by 2022.

Open Fiber had more than 8 million homes subscribe to an FTTH service, at the end of last year.

Iliad came to Italy as a mobile operator two years ago gaining over 5.5 million customers, yet it has since, been looking to establish its fixed-line access.

This extensive broadband agreement between the two companies, aims to reach a convergence, but how does it work? To sell an additional product or service to an existing customer rather than purchasing new customers in a single product line, which means a less expensive, more efficient process.

“Growing demand for fixed connectivity over the few past months has driven us to accelerate toward our debut in the fixed segment and the agreement with Open Fiber is the first step in that direction”, said Benedetto Levi, CEO of Iliad’s Italian operations, in a statement.

“Iliad has brought transparency, simplicity and clarity to the world of telephony by building a solid and trusting relationship with its users,” said Levi.

In addition, convergence produces something to meet individual requirements along with a customer service that can be more effective and efficient. Thus, the advantages that convergence gives increases customer loyalty and adds more importance to service providers.

Sky Italia announced a few days ago that it would offer broadband services to customers in 120 towns and cities, expanding its broadband mark in the Italian market.

With the Italian government advising Open Fiber to work with TIM (Telecom Italia) to generate a single network, the Italian telecommunication company continues to be a crucially important player in the industry. This factor increases pressure on TIM, which is lagging behind in an increasingly competitive Italian market.

Thus, convergence is a big step towards enhancing business but it is part of a long-term strategic plan that takes time to implement.  

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Loon: A balloon to help bridge the digital divide in Kenya

Inside Telecom Staff

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Loon A balloon to help bridge the digital divide in Kenya

Kenya has progressed with the deployment of 5G networks. However, a number of Kenyans remain unconnected especially those who are living in rural areas. According to the World Bank report issued in October 2019, 44% of Kenyans living in urban areas have access to the Internet. However, less than 20% of the population is connected. Alphabet’s Loon division comes to close the digital gap with its new project called Loon’s balloons which aims to extend connectivity for communities around the world. In partnership with Telekom Kenya, Loon delivers connectivity from balloons flying 20km up in the stratosphere.

On July 7, 2020, Loon’s balloon started delivering connectivity in Kenya following a commercial deal- the first of its kind in Africa- between Telekom Kenya and Loon. A crucial partnership for Kenyans digital rights as it helps them connect to the whole world especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the New York Times, the balloons will provide a 4G LTE network connection to nearly the 31,000-square-mile area across central and western Kenya, including Nairobi.

Late April 2020, Loon launched the first loon balloon in partnership with Telekom Kenya aiming to provide services to network subscribers across the country. Loon’s Head of Engineering Salvatore Candido said in a blog post “Loon flights depart from one of two sites in Puerto Rico or Nevada. These balloons reach Kenya through a map built on a daily basis by software automation.” According to Candido, Loon’s balloons help to close the digital divide. “The importance of making it possible for everyone to have access to the Internet has never been so clear in our day to day lives,” he said.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) census report, only one in five Kenyans has access to the Internet. Sometimes, Kenyans living in rural areas have to travel physically to secure access to the internet. Loon balloons will help Kenyans to remain connected. The launch will enable Kenyans to enjoy internet access and utilize Kenyan government platforms – as many services including applying for a passport and paying for a trade license, have been digitized.

Loon’s CEO Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post published on July 7, 2020, that most Kenyans were connected to the Internet through a balloon without knowing it. “Since we began early tests, we’ve connected over 35,000 unique users, delivering OTT voice and video calling, streaming, web connectivity, and more,” he explained.

Project Loon was launched in 2013 and has been used for many emergencies such as connecting Peru after an earthquake in 2019. Loon has taken the most essential components of a cell tower and has designed them to be light enough to be carried by a balloon. These balloons are manufactured to cope with extreme weather conditions.

Loon balloons are made from a sheet of polyethylene and they last up to 100 days in the air before landing back on Earth. Polyethylene is the most popular type of plastic in the world but it needs 450 years to biodegrade. However, the company has thought about conserving the environment. Balloons are located through a GPS module and lands in sparsely populated areas so they can be collected for reuse and recycle.

Loon has been criticized for the deployment of the Loon balloons technology in Kenyan areas that have already developed infrastructures.

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