Jay Z, Dorsey, Mastercard for crypto, Casablanca-Togo submarine cable, Pngme raises $3m

February 15, 2021
4 min read
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Good day,

Múyìwá and Oluwanifemi here.

Today we are discussing

  • Jack Dorsey and Jay Z working to fast-track bitcoin adoption
  • Mastercard bringing cryptocurrency to its network
  • Moov-Africa to deploy submarine cable from Casablanca to Lomé
  • Some funding news

Jay Z, Jack Dorsey and Mastercard are betting on crypto

Image by WorldSpectrum from Pixabay

Twitter and Square CEO, Jack Dorsey and Hip-hop mogul, Jay Z have donated 500 bitcoins (worth $24.5m as of penning this) to an endowment fund called ₿trust.

The plan? To support global bitcoin development, starting with India and 'Africa'. The timing of the announcement is quite curious, given recent government resistance to cryptocurrency in India and Nigeria.

The endgame is to make bitcoin the internet's official currency. The duo is currently looking to enlist 3 board members who will run ₿trust as a 'blind irrevocable trust'; Dorsey himself promised via a tweet that neither him nor Jay Z will be directly involved.

Meanwhile, Mastercard is betting on cryptocurrency as the future of payments. Earlier last week, Executive VP (digital assets & blockchain products & partnership, Raj Dhamodharan revealed the company's plans to bring cryptocurrencies unto its network. 

To be clear, Mastercard already facilitates crypto-based card transactions, via partnerships with fintech companies like BitPay and Wirex. But in such partnerships, Mastercard merely facilitated the transactions. But this is changing, as it will now support select cryptocurrencies directly on its network.

Oh, and by the way, some Nigerian banks have already begun freezing accounts of customers that traded cryptocurrency, in compliance with the Central Bank of Nigeria's directive.

Moov-Africa to deploy Casablanca-Lomé submarine cable?

submarine cable
Image by Guerric Flickr via Compfight cc

TogoFirst reports that Francophone Africa-focused telecoms giant, Moov-Africa has announced plans to deploy a submarine cable that will run from Casablanca, Morocco to Lomé, Togo. 

While the report quotes Moov-Africa MD, Abdellah Tabhiret as its source, it provides no further details; like the length of the submarine cable and estimated time of delivery. Neither does Moov Africa's official website acknowledge the announcement

If Moov-Africa sounds unfamiliar, it's because up until January 2021, the company and its 11 subsidiaries were known as Maroc Telecom Group.

Why it matters. If TogoFirst's report is anything to go by, it certainly spells good news for Francophone West Africa, where the digital economy is generally perceived to be lagging behind Anglophone West Africa.

Besides the Central African Republic, Morocco, Gabon and Chad, Moov-Africa has a presence in 7 of the 9 Francophone countries in West Africa. With a base of over 70 million subscribers, a submarine cable connecting Morocco, across the Atlantic, to Lomé would go a long way in fulfilling Moov-Africa's ambition to get "Africa on the move".

You should totally read 'How Francophone Africa tech players are breaking down barriers in search of recognition'.

US-based, Africa-focused Pngme raises $3m seed round

Pngme COO, Cate Rung and CEO, Brendan Playford (Supplied)

Africa-focused, US-based unified financial data platform, Pngme has announced a $3 million seed round led by Radical Ventures, EchoVC, Raptor Group, and Lateral Capital. Founded in 2018, the startup raised $500,000 pre-seed raise in 2019. The startup’s focus has always been on African fintechs and other financial institutions especially in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana.

What Pngme primarily does is aggregate mobile money transactions, bank transactions, loan data, behavioural data, and process all that data into a structured format that is available as an open API to developers, fintechs or banks across the continent. Hence, helping these institutions to make more informed financial commitments while also assisting entrepreneurs in accessing to capital.

Interestingly, Pngme’s database is developed via the collection of user-permissioned data through a partner app using a one-click data-sharing feature. So far, it has a couple of fintechs using its API. Some notable mentions include SimpleFi, Pavelon, ReadyCash, CashTopUp and Rigo Microfinance. 

Following the raise, Pngme plans to deepen its influence on the sub-Saharan African market. While at that, it is eyeing large financial institutions before the end of Q1 2021.
Going by Q4 2020 figures, the platform is expected to reach hundreds of thousands and millions of user-permissioned data by 2022.

Listen to Pngme CEO, Brendan Playford sharing the startup's vision.

It appears that API fintech startups are the next frontier of development on the continent. Here's why API fintech startups are becoming a big deal in Nigeria.

In other related news, South African-founded hearing healthcare startup, hearX Group recently announced raising $8.3m, in Series A funding, to expand its reach in the US.

Did you miss these last week?

  • Nigeria’s SEC pauses crypto regulation plans, confirms intent to regulate Investment-tech. Read.
  • Nigerian Senate offers possible lifeline for crypto, invites SEC and CBN for a briefing. Read.
  • How cryptotraders are handling CBN’s crypto ban and bank account closure. Read.
  • Connected Analytics, parent company of ThankUCash, raises seven-digit pre-Series A to expand operations. Read.
  • GIG Logistics wants to reduce delivery costs for merchants with new Class Plan. Read.
  • How Nigerian-founded CribMD evolved to become a telemedicine healthtech startup. Read.

Have a great day!

Múyìwá Mátùlúkò and Oluwanifemi Kolawole for Techpoint Africa.

Techpoint Africa is a digital media company that amplifies the best innovations out of Africa through its mediadata, and events.
Techpoint Africa is a digital media company that amplifies the best innovations out of Africa through its mediadata, and events.
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