TechCabal Daily – Coronavirus: Mobile Money Waivers, Betting Woes & New Distribution Models

More Nigerian tech companies are going remote because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, March 18, fintech startup, Paystack announced that all its employees could begin working from home starting Thursday, March 19. Crypto exchange startup, Buycoins activated full remote work a day before that while Carbon, another fintech startup, has told customers it will now treat their inquiries only via email and social media. “We are targeting 100% working from home for all Carbon staff to minimise the likelihood of infection,” Carbon explained to its customers.

These changes have become necessary as the country’s health officials announced four new cases yesterday, Thursday, March 19. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 12. Alex has been tracking how tech companies are responding to the crisis. Read more here.

“While large crowds might be bad for the public now (because of coronavirus), it is good for online betting companies,” an anonymous source, at one of Nigeria’s biggest online betting companies, told Muyiwa.

Betting companies are among those that are starting to feel the economic consequences of the spread of COVID-19. Following the suspension of some sporting activities, especially football matches, bettors are only left with virtual sports which Muyiwa reports isn’t so popular at the shops he visited. “Virtual bets are a rabbit hole, it’s determined by code. With real bets, I can bank on Messi and Ronaldo saving the day,” one bettor said.

Betting operators now say they are experiencing an off-season. “Some of our agents record about 250 bet slips per till, but in the last few days, it has fallen to 14,’ one operator told Muyiwa. Here’s the full story on TechCabal

In more news about the economic impact of the coronavirus, French ride-hailing company, Heetch has reportedly suspended operations in Cameroon. In its press release, Heetch says it “has been directly affected by the coronavirus crisis” in France and it wants to refocus its activities on other countries. The company launched in Cameroon in September 2019 after raising $38 million in May 2019 to take on Uber in French speaking countries. The company has a network of 250 VIP cart bikes in Douala, according to Business in Cameroon. Heetch’s exit leaves users with fewer options including Mboa Taxi and Easy Ride.

Here’s positive news. Following a similar gesture by Safaricom and Airtel in Kenya, MTN is waiving its mobile money fees in Cameroon and Zambia to discourage people from using cash. Cash is a possible vector for the spread of the virus. Waiving transaction fees could encourage more people to use mobile money platforms instead of cash. This could also mean an uptick in transaction volume for mobile money platforms.

In Kenya, the Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has launched an online directory for its members to sell their goods. This provides members with a new distribution model. The association is attempting to mitigate effects of the coronavirus pandemic on its members. Individuals and retailers will find information about manufacturers on the website and they will also be able to place orders. With the initiative, KAM hopes to cut out middlemen who may want to benefit from the crisis by hiking prices.

The Zone Tech Park is holding The Founders Zone fireside chat, a two-hour recorded studio session event that provides tech-entrepreneurs insights from real life stories, brand visibility, networking, access to market and exposure to opportunities available in the technology space.

If you would like to be one of the founders featured on the show, please fill in this form. To join the audience indicate your interest here.

In Other News
+ AfriLabs announces its Hubs Learning Week 2020 Series 1
+ This DRC-based startup is helping people protect their children and property

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And, wash your hands with soap & water. See you next week.

– Olanrewaju

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