Africa's Flutterwave to acquire Railsr, a British fintech company

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January 12, 2023
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7 mins read
Flutterwave team members

Techpoint Digest

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Utụtụ ọma,

AI company, OpenAI, is planning to launch a premium paid version called ChatGPT Professional.

OpenAI made ChatGPT freely available in November 2022. However, reports indicate that the company is already considering various monetisation methods.

The AI company has created a Google form waitlist for interested people. 

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OpenAI says those who fill out the form may be selected to pilot ChatGPT Professional. 

However, the company claims it’s currently experimenting with the programme, and it will not be made globally available "at this time."

Important: Pitch Friday is tomorrow, Friday, January 13, 2023. To pitch an idea or your startup, fill out this form. Register here to attend. The venue is 43b Emina Crescent, Allen, Ikeja, and the time is 4 p.m. WAT. 

Here’s what I’ve got for you today: 

  • Invisible disabilities in a Nigerian workplace
  • The implications of the Mental Health Act 2021 
  • How to protect yourself from a crypto exchange collapse
  • Flutterwave to acquire Railsr
  • Telkom end talks with Rain

Invisible disabilities in a Nigerian workplace

A professional sitting in front of a laptop with Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Insomia hovering over his head
Invisible disabilities

Living with an invisible disability can be difficult because people might not always believe you when you tell them you have a condition that limits or challenges your movement, senses, or activities.

Here's an instance: In November 2022, I travelled for a friend's wedding. The night before, she started the “Victoria said she’s autistic” conversation with me and another friend of ours. 

She does not believe I am autistic because she has an image of what an autistic person looks like.

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While I wasn't surprised, the discussion was draining. I tried explaining how difficult school was for me and how challenging work could be. But she chose not to listen.

However, our mutual friend tried to make her see my point. Still not convinced, she was like, "Is that why you shake? Does your autism make you shake?" While I found that question funny, I replied in the affirmative.

In her latest piece, Oluwanifemi spoke with professionals with invisible disabilities in the workplace. 

An invisible disability, also known as a hidden disability or non-visible disability (NVD), is a non-visible physical, mental, or neurological condition.

For example, autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, glaucoma, depression, or diabetes is not immediately apparent. But that doesn't mean they don't impact people’s abilities.

Oluwanifemi's piece delves deeply into the struggles of people with invisible disabilities in Nigeria. It investigates how they navigate work and what employers can do.

You can watch it here: Living with an invisible disability in a Nigerian workplace

Alternatively, you can read a summary of the piece here: Inside the lives of professionals living with invisible disabilities in Nigerian workplaces

The implications of the Mental Health Act 2021

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Last week, January 5, 2023, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Mental Health Bill 2021. 

Why does it matter? Nigerians have been under an “outdated and inhumane” law called the Lunacy Act of 1958 for a long time.

For context, the Lunacy Act allows police officers and court officials to forcefully detain people with actual or perceived mental illnesses for months or years because they think anyone showing signs of a mental illness is mad. 

This could explain the stigma associated with mental illness and discrimination against people with mental disorders, and why mental health resources, staff, and care are very scarce in Nigeria.

But all these are about to change with the Mental Health Act 2021. It says every Nigerian can and should receive mental health care with the same dignity and respect as other medical cases. 

Nigeria now recognises mental health disorders as an illness that anyone can have due to a disturbance in cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour. 

The Act defines and protects the rights of Nigerians with mental illnesses. It provides equal access to treatment and care, discourages stigma and discrimination, and sets standards for psychiatric practice in Nigeria, among other provisions.  

If you want to know more about what the Mental Health Act 2021 means for you as a Nigerian or for healthtech startups in the country, please read: Mental Health Act 2021: What does it mean for Nigerians and healthtech startups?

How to protect yourself from a crypto exchange collapse

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Crypto and money
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I don’t understand the fascination with something as volatile as cryptocurrency. Even after the recent FTX collapse, I have a few acquaintances whose goal is to invest more money in crypto in 2023.

However, if you invested last year and the fall of FTX has eroded your faith in centralised exchanges (CEX), you're not alone.

Bolu understands your anguish and has provided information on how to protect yourself from a potential collapse in 2023.

Before we get there, you must understand that CEX is vital to crypto. Though Bolu has used decentralised exchanges (DEX), most of his crypto transactions happen on CEXs.

But what is the difference between CEX and DEX? The difference between a centralised and decentralised exchange is that the former is an intermediary between you and the blockchain, while the latter offers direct interaction. 

A simple way to understand this is to know what crypto wallets are. A wallet is an essential part of any crypto activity, and its primary function is storing cryptocurrencies.

Third parties like Binance, Quidax, Coinbase, or Bundle provide a centralised wallet. These companies interact with the blockchain on your behalf by carrying out your instructions.  

To use such wallets, you create an account just like any other fintech application, complete with KYC protocols, username, and password. 

On the other hand, a decentralised wallet is connected directly to the blockchain and does not require any KYC. Instead of a username and password, you get an address and a private key.

In his latest article, Bolu shows how you — trader or crypto enthusiast — can use CEXs and DEXs favourably in 2023. 

Read it here: How to protect yourself from a crypto exchange collapse in 2023

Flutterwave to acquire Railsr

Flutterwave team members

African fintech startup, Flutterwave, is reportedly planning to acquire Railsr, a British fintech company, along with some of Railsr’s existing shareholders.

Formerly known as Railsbank, Railsr specialises in embedded finance solutions, including banking services, credit cards, and digital wallets. 

The company has raised over $187 million in equity funding from prominent investors, including Visa. 

In early 2022, it was reportedly looking for a $100 million investment, and in October 2022, it closed a $46 million Series C funding round.

In addition, the company has made some significant acquisitions, including the German company, Wirecard, in August 2020.

However, the economic downturn has impacted Railsr, causing it to lay off several unspecified employees and downsize its operations.

Northern Borealis, a Cyprus-based freight company, also sued PayrNet, a Railsr subsidiary, for failing to pay out money from its account.

Flutterwave helps merchants accept payments online and at the point of sale in several ways. 

If this deal goes through, it will be Flutterwave's second publicly disclosed acquisition since the company paid an undisclosed sum in 2021 to purchase the creator platform, Disha.

Telkom end talks with Rain

telkom

South African telco, Telkom, has announced that it has ended talks with Rain, a mobile communications company in the country, about a potential acquisition.

On September 30, 2022, Rain formally proposed to Telkom to purchase it with newly issued shares.

However, Telkom has said, “After initial discussions, but prior to any due diligence, the parties have decided that a suitable transaction is not possible at this time,”

Remember we saw a series of talks between Telkom, Rain, and MTN.

In July 2022, MTN and Telkom said they were in preliminary talks about a possible merger.

However, Rain told the press in August that it had sent a proposal to Telkom.

But Telkom denied receiving the proposal, and the Takeover Regulation Panel directed Rain to withdraw its statement, claiming they were made without permission.

A month later, Rain retracted its Telkom merger offer announcement and issued a properly approved formal proposal.

MTN, on the other hand, walked away due to Telkom's discussions with Rain.

In case you missed it

What I’m reading and watching

Opportunities

  • If you are a product designer and a researcher looking for (remote) jobs and internships in the United States and Canada, please, check this out.
  • If you are a software engineer, creative designer, product manager, design researcher, or a techie looking for an internship role, please, check out this website.
  • Check out several design internship roles in the United States here.
  • Enyata is hiring a Product Designer. Send your portfolio and resume to careers@enyata.com.
  • US-based company, Outliant, is looking for a Contentful Full-Stack Developer to work remotely with them. Apply here.
  • Flutterwave is hiring a Product Designer. Apply here.
  • If you are a student, you can now apply for the Rice Business Plan Competition 2023 for Student Startups. To apply, check this out.
  • The Africa Incubation Blockchain Program is a 4-month intensive programme designed to help participants develop and launch their blockchain projects. Apply here.
  • Misk Entrepreneurship has partnered with Plug and Play to launch the fourth cohort of Misk Accelerator 2023 where 20 startups will participate in the 12-week hybrid programme. Apply here.

Have a wonderful Thursday.

Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.

I am a neurodivergent person who is interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find me on Twitter @latoria_ria.
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