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Mastercard to Develop New Blockchain-Powered Cross-Border Payments

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Mastercard and R3, an enterprise blockchain software provider, are developing a new blockchain-enabled cross-border payments solution to simplify clearance of global payments and money transfer.

Mastercard and R3 will connect global faster payments infrastructures, schemes and banks globally.

According to Peter Klein, executive vice president of New Payment Platforms for Mastercard: “Our goal is to deliver global payment infrastructure choice and connectivity as demonstrated through our recent strategic acquisitions and partnerships, including our relationship with R3. It confirms our commitment to innovation, both home-grown and through partnerships and acquisitions, to support advances and innovation in the increasingly complex global payment infrastructure space”

Earlier this year, Mastercard strengthened its cross-border network reach with its acquisition of Transfast. Today’s announcement complements the company’s formidable capabilities by providing access to R3’s Corda ecosystem, which includes more than 300 of the world’s leading financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators and trade associations.

The deal is under Mastercard’s multi-rail strategy to give customers more choice on how they move money. The firm believes that combining R3’s expertise in blockchain with its existing payment systems assets, brand and distribution will provide great value add services for customers.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, added: “We are excited to partner with Mastercard to help shape the future of the digital payments ecosystem. All institutions – large or small – rely on the ability to send and receive payments, but all too often the technology they rely upon is cumbersome and expensive.”

Cross-border payments can be a particular pain point. Corda was designed specifically for enterprise use cases such as this, and R3 aims to support Mastercard in bringing blockchain-enabled payments businesses across the globe.

Recently, Mastercard announced it had joined Marco Polo Network to advance global trade through optimized financing. The Marco Polo Network, a trade and working capital finance network with over 25 member banks aims to unlock what the World Trade Organization has identified as a potential $1.5 trillion[1] opportunity in global trade finance.

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Mastercard Track™, a B2B global trade enablement platform, and the Marco Polo Network are collaborating to provide more businesses with trusted access to Marco Polo’s trade and working capital finance solutions. Companies of all sizes will benefit from better visibility into trading relationships and easier access to financing options, beyond point to point relationships, to a global network of trading parties.

Launched in the fall of 2018, Mastercard Track unifies access to business identity information through a secure, permissioned repository of more than 210 million registered entities worldwide. Interoperating with leading business to business digital providers, Mastercard Track reduces the time it takes for businesses to identify, vet and onboard new trading partners – and simplifies the end-to-end payment process.

Better and faster access to critical information will work as a catalyst for businesses using the Marco Polo network – which is powered by the trusted Corda blockchain technology from enterprise software company R3 – to tap into working capital provided by global financial institutions.

“When there is trust, there will be trade”, commented Claire Thompson, EVP Enterprise Partnerships at Mastercard. “By connecting our Mastercard Track platform with a leading group such as Marco Polo we’re further lowering the barriers to access trade finance for business of all sizes globally. We’re excited about scaling a connected digital trade ecosystem together.”

“The future of enterprise technology is in integrated systems which break down siloes and enable seamless interaction between services”, said David E. Rutter, CEO of R3. “That is exactly the promise of blockchain platforms like Corda across enterprise activity. Through this collaboration between the Marco Polo Network and Mastercard, I’m excited to see the opportunities to connect together and create more joined up, efficient and effective trade finance processes for both institutions and enterprises.”


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Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite launched in Kenya, starts selling on February 10th

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Samsung’s latest smartphone in the Kenyan market is one that has received quite the acclaim abroad.

Unveiled at the start of the year alongside the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite after weeks of rumours, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite is a follow up to last year’s Galaxy Note 10 but for those on a budget.

The feature set is also different.

Whereas the Galaxy Note 10 packs all the latest and “greatest” features, the Note 10 Lite makes do with yesteryear components like the dated Exynos 9810. Of course, that also means that the base model packs 128GB internal storage space which is quite a lot but pales in comparison to the Note 10’s 256GB starting point.

It also skips on the IP rating of the Note 10.

However, it shows its muscle in the amount of memory (6GB, the 8GB variant isn’t available locally), a bigger (6.7-inch vs 6.3-inch) Super AMOLED display panel and a bigger battery (4,500mAh vs 3,500mAh).

It also packs a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot, both of which are missing on the Note 10.

What makes “a Note a Note”, the S Pen, is available on the Note 10 Lite, marking the first time since the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco (which saw the release of a “watered-down” Note device) that Samsung has made the Note lineup available at a “less-than-premium” price.

Starting on Monday, February 10th, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite can be had in the country for Kshs 58,000. So much for a “less-than-premium” price, eh? It’s at least a tidy fraction of the Note 10’s high price.

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Daystar Power raises $4m from SunFunder for rapid buildout in Nigeria

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Daystar Power, a commercial and industrial (C&I) solar developer,  has raised $4 million from SundFunder to provide solar power and energy efficiency solutions for businesses in the commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors in Nigeria.

Daystar Power says the funding will result in significant reduction of power costs, diesel consumption and pollution in Nigeria.

SunFunder, a solar finance company providing debt capital to solar enterprises in emerging markets, invests up to 3MWp of C&I projects for clients including top tier financial institutions and other small and medium-sized enterprises will mitigate 102,410 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

According to Rim Azirar, Investment Officer at SunFunder, “We are delighted to support Daystar’s growth with a project finance-like structure that can support the company’s strategy for rapid buildout in Nigeria, through their highly scalable business model.” 

Daystar’s mission is to provide an African sustainable energy solution that results in a minimum 20 % reduction in energy costs and 50% reduction in diesel consumption for end users.

According to a recent study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Nigeria has the largest potential for C&I solar in Africa because of the scale of the opportunity for diesel replacement. Daystar is a pioneer in the market, offering end-users increased reliability as well as lower energy costs through solar and storage systems.

Christian Wessels, co-founder and executive of Daystar Power, comments: “We are happy to partner with SunFunder in our mission to bring clean, continuous and affordable power to West African businesses in support of their growth and environmental goals. The support of SunFunder enables the beginning of a new phase of accelerated growth for our company.”

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In October, Daystar Power announced it had installed its 100th solar energy system in Nigeria since it was founded in 2017. In May the same year, it raised EUR 500,000 via Trine for captive power installations in Togo & Senegal. The amount was a debt round raised via crowdfunding site Trine, a Swedish investment platform to finance solar power systems.

In April, Daystar Power entered Ghana after raising $10m for West Africa expansion. The Ghana office was its second branch in West Africa with an office in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.

In March, Daystar Power received 10 million US Dollars for expansion of solar power operations in West Africa. The $10 million USD investment was led by Verod Capital Management and Persistent Energy Capital LLC.


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Twitter Makes $1bn Quarterly Revenue For The First Time

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Twitter has pulled in one billion dollars in quarterly revenue for the first time. The revenue grew by 11 per cent from a year earlier to $1.01bn, also beating the expectation of $996.7m from the previous projections.

The high revenue is attributed to the tremendous efforts the company has made In the most recent days. Among them, it has made make its platform more user-friendly sending its shares up 14 per cent in early trading.

Prior, the company forecast it’s first-quarter revenue between $825m and $885m. The Wall Street had an estimate of $872.6m in revenues.

The companies CEO Jack Dorsey during an earnings call with analysts said,” Rolling out new features at a faster pace is one of Twitter’s top priorities for the year. The time it takes to go from an idea to shipping something remarkable to customers simply takes too long”

“2019 was a great year for Twitter. Our work to increase relevance and ease of use delivered 21% mDAU [(monetizable Daily Active Usage)] growth in Q4, with more than half of the 26 million mDAU added in 2019 directly driven by product improvements. Entering 2020, we are building on our momentum – learning faster, prioritizing better, shipping more and hiring remarkable talent. All of which put us in a stronger position as we address the challenges and opportunities ahead.” he added.

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Twitter has also focused on relevant content and notifications which has boosted average monetizable daily active users.

The metrics rose to 152 million in the fourth quarter through December from 126 million the previous year. From the records, it has beaten the average analyst’s expectation of 147.5 million according to Aljazeera.

Twitter revealed that the firm’s revenue for the whole year was $3.46 billion which represents a 14 per cent increase. The yearly costs and expenses added up to $ 3.09 billion. This pulled down to an 11 per cent operation margin and operating income of $336 million.

The United States, which is its major market generated $591 million of revenue. This is an increase of 17 per cent from the previous year.

Further, this year’s goals are to increase its workforce up to 20 per cent or more in engineering, product design and research. Among other investments, Twitter foresees a new data centre this year.


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