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Nigeria’s Interswitch hits $1bn valuation with Visa investment

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Nigeria’s digital payments firm Interswitch said Visa has acquired a minority equity stake in the firm, TechCrunch has reported.

“The investment makes Interswitch one of the most valuable African fintech businesses with a valuation of $1 billion,” Interswitch said in a press statement to TechCrunch.

The Visa investment could create the first of two market distinctions for Interswitch — as it shouldn’t change the Lagos based company’s plans to go public.

“An IPO is still very much in the cards; likely sometime in the first half of 2020,” a source with knowledge of the situation told TechCrunch on background.

Interswitch did not reveal the amount of Visa’s investment and would not confirm Sky News reporting Monday that pegged it at $200 million for 20%.

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Whatever the exact number, Interswitch’s confirmation of a $1 billion valuation marks another milestone in African tech.

Only e-commerce venture Jumia — had generated enough revenue and capital to achieve a ten-figure valuation. But the firm’s valuation had since fallen below the billion mark.

Founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch pioneered the infrastructure to digitize Nigeria’s then predominantly paper-ledger and cash-based economy.

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The company now provides much of rails for Nigeria’s online banking system that serves Africa’s largest economy and population. Interswitch offers a number of personal and business finance products, including its Verve payment cards and Quickteller payment app.

From its home-base of Nigeria, Interswitch has expanded to Uganda, Gambia and Kenya.

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Interswitch also sells its products in 23 African countries and launched a partnership in August for its Verve cardholders to make payments on Discover’s global network.

Visa and Interswitch are touting the equity investment as a strategic collaboration between the two companies, without a lot of detail on what that will mean.

“The partnership will create an instant acceptance network across Africa to benefit consumers and merchants,” Interswitch said in the press release.–TechCrunch

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Pantami: I have earned more as a professor than as minister

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has said that his salaries and allowances fall below his earnings as an academic at the International University Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

Pantami said this while reacting to a report that he had procured three houses since his assumed office as a minister barely a year ago.

In a statement by Uwa Suleiman, his spokesperson on Friday, July 3, 2020, the minister said he has not purchased a single property anywhere in the world.

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The statement reads in part,

 “For the purpose of setting the records straight, the Honourable Minister has not purchased a single property anywhere In the world, in the period he has been in office as a Minister. One of the apartments in the images published is one which the Honourable Minister has occupied since January 2017, more than two years before becoming a minister, while the other one is a house he rented since 17th December 2019. Two of the images are not even known to him.

“It is worthy of note that as a serving Minister, Dr Pantami’s salaries and allowances fall below his earnings as a Professor at the International University Madinah Saudi Arabia, where he still holds the record of being the first Nigerian to lecture at that level. He only returned to Nigeria out of the zeal to contribute his quota to national development.

“Dr Pantami is one of the few Nigerians who are driven by nothing, but an unequalled sense of patriotism and selfless service as demonstrated in his act of sacrifice, to answer the call to serve his country as a sign of his patriotism and selfless service.”

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JUST IN: Police arrests Ebonyi NUJ chairman, Nwizi

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Police operatives have arrested Tony Nwizi, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ebonyi.

According to The Nation, he was picked up on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

Police spokesperson in Ebonyi, Loveth Odah, said she was yet to get details of the development.

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She said,

” agents came into Ebonyi yesterday from the Anti-Kidnaping Unit of the Lagos State Police Command. They wanted their papers to be signed so they could effect an arrest”.

“We are still on the matter, in order to confirm if he was the one that they came for. The identity of whoever they came for is not usually disclosed.”

It was gathered that Nwizi’s arrest was due to a petition.

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COVID-19: Osun locks down four LGs

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Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Saturday ordered a total lockdown of four local government areas of the state to curtail community spread of COVID-19.

Movement in the affected local government areas would be restricted for seven days in the first instance the governor said.
The LGs are; Ilesa East, Ilesa West, Atakumosa East and Atakumosa West.

A statement by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mrs Funke Egbemode, explained that the decision to lock down the four councils was a sequel to the meeting between the government and the stakeholders from the area.

Egbemode said the lockdown would commence on Tuesday, July 7, and it would be for one week in the first instance, adding that, if the compliance level was not encouraging, the government would announce the further extension.

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She further explained that the state was closely monitoring other Local Government Areas with rising numbers of those testing positive for COVID-19 in the state, and may in the days ahead, lockdown more areas.

She added that the decision to impose a total lockdown on the four local government areas was aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

The Commissioner stressed that the lockdown would be total, as residents and citizens in the affected local government areas would not have the opportunity to go to worship centres and markets during the period.

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The statement read in parts,

“As you are all aware, the Federal Government, a few days ago lifted the ban on interstate travel in the country. We have, therefore, lifted ours too.

But our relaxation guidelines still subsist except for four local government areas, namely; Ilesa West, Ilesa East, Atakumosa West, and Atakumosa East Local Government areas where we have now ordered a one-week lockdown, effective Tuesday, July 7.

“For the avoidance of doubt, our curfew will still run from 9.p.m to 5.a.m daily in other parts of the State, except the locked down LGAs.

In furtherance to the above, for the other parts of the State, the ban on political, public, religious, and any kind of gatherings under whatever guise remain in force, while worship centres must adhere strictly to government’s guidelines guiding their re-opening.

“The government will not hesitate to shut down any of the worship centres that violate our guidelines.

“For the four local government areas, all markets will remain shut, only neighbourhood markets and Pharmacies will be allowed to open.

“There must be strict adherence to stipulated physical distancing, the use of face masks, and observance of all other precautionary measures and established protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.”

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