Connect with us

News

How Big Tech Corporations are Profiting from the Covid-19 Pandemic

As a Global Recession looms over the Global Economy,  Tech Giants rake billions in Revenue during COVID-19 Pandemic.

Published

on

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic painfully kills innocent individuals globally, it seems to be taking powerful blows at the global economy, knocking down start-ups without the financial wherewithal to stand against its powerful blows.

As the human toll grows, the economic damage rises. Global Economic Prospects reports: “COVID-19 has triggered the deepest global recession in decades.” According to the baseline forecast, an estimate of future demand based historical demand global GDP is expected to see a 5.2% drop in 2020. 

However, governments of  different countries are taking steps to contain the human and economic impact of COVID-19. Côte d’Ivoire, for example, declared a state of emergency after its first confirmed case was recorded on March 12 2020. Schools, nightclubs, bars, and theatres were closed. 

As the containment measures were relaxed and normal economic activities continued, the regional central bank, BCEAO (Central Bank For West African States) and  West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), according to the IMF, began a collateral framework, to help refinance 1,700 private companies. Also banks and microfinance institution customers who had trouble servicing their debts as a result of the Pandemic were given a 3 months window without the need to service their debts and without incurring any penalties.

In Ghana, the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) provided relief funds for small  depository institutions. 

 Nigeria’s  CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria), created a N50 billion ($139 million) targeted stimulus package to support households and MSMEs impacted by the heavy blows of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Despite these efforts, the Pandemic still plunges the global economy into a tragic recession. It becomes apparent that COVID-19 will leave lasting scars as human lives are lost, and as the globe plunges into an economic downturn. The cost of the Pandemic has been put at $2 trillion globally

As the Pandemic ripples through the USA with about 5.2 million confirmed cases (as at 12th August)  unemployment reaches an all time high. In the UK, the worst quarterly fall since Q3 of 1979, was recently recorded. 

In more vulnerable economies, the impact is bad and is bound to get worse. As Nigeria sluggishly recuperates from the 2014 oil price shock, another steep decline in oil prices undermines the little progress made in 6 years. The budget for the 2020 fiscal year was prepared with significant revenue projections of about 20%, but the realities of COVID-19 have called for a review of expected earnings. 

As the pandemic knocks out businesses and cripples industries, some businesses are, however, thriving.

Amazon, Facebook, Zoom, etc are all witnessing tremendous growth as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic

One of these businesses is Amazon. It announced a profit of $5.2 billion for the 1st quarter. Ironically, the US  announced an economic growth collapse on that same day. Macy’s and Niemen Marcus, retailers like Amazon, have laid off workers in their thousands. 

Facebook saw a 10% increase in revenue, $18.3 billion in the second quarter.  Apple surpassed Wall Street expectations with a revenue of $59.7 billion. 

Popular video conferencing app; Zoom, recorded great revenue as the customer base grew by 354%. $328.2 million was recorded as the company’s revenue in Q1 of year 2020. 

Popular content streaming service also recorded some very interesting numbers. It added 15.77 million International subscribers massively surpassing the 7.2 million predicted by Wall Street. With over 182 million subscribers worldwide, the company saw a $5.77 quarterly revenue. 

Restriction to movement has been a major reason for the huge turn overs recorded by these businesses. Internet usage increased by 70%, while streaming went up by 12%. 

People look to the internet for entertainment, connection, income generation and the likes. 

WhatsApp has seen 40% increase in usage. As ability to socialize physically reduces, these platforms provide an opportunity for humans to keep in touch. 

As the Pandemic deals severely with economies, households and small businesses, tech giants profit off our desire to remain sane through the pandemic.

Are they all Winners? 

It is not all fireworks and celebrations for every tech company. While some have been raking in big bucks because people have been stuck in their houses, others  thrive on people actually leaving their houses, and quite a few companies are in this situation.

Uber: Uber Technologies Inc., popularly known as Uber, has not been recording impressive numbers, unlike its other tech counterparts. 

The ride-hailing app has seen a major decline in active customers. Uber now has an average of 55 million customers each month since the pandemic, a massive drop from 99 million last year. 

When the lockdown was at its worst, Uber had an 80% decline in business. 3,500 employees were laid off over a “Zoom Call” by  the company as a cutting-cost measure. Though the medium of delivering such a sensitive subject has been considered callous by some, it shows how badly the Pandemic hit the company.

In spite of the fact that the company’s ride hailing business has been slow with fewer people booking rides, the company’s food delivery service recorded a boom during the pandemic. As its core business dropped, Uber concentrated on its food delivery business to alleviate the core business beatdown.

Airbnb: The online marketplace for vacation homes, took some heavy blows from the pandemic. Apparently, the hit was so bad that it had to lay off employees. 

“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill,” CEO Brian Chesky tells employees

Airbnb had to freeze hiring and cut executives’ salaries. The Wall Street journal reported that the company had already lost $322 million last year after ramping up spending due to 2018’s profit. 

Laid off workers received one year health care, 14 weeks of base pay, one additional week for every year they worked at Airbnb. 

Both sides to the COVID-19 Pandemic are just as brutal. Human losses are devastating, and economic losses are just as terrible. Though reports come in numbers and statistics, the pain, however, is inestimable. 

Comments

Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

Bitcoin in Africa

Crypto Regulation or CBDC? What Africa’s Biggest Crypto Hotspot Requires?

Published

on

Crypto in Nigeria
Image Credit: Kabiru Yusuf

On February 5, 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria rolled out an order urging financial institutions to close the accounts of persons or entities that transact in or operate a cryptocurrency exchange.  According to the apex bank, digital currencies generated by unregulated or unregistered firms raise legal concerns because they can be used to perpetrate illicit affairs; money laundering and terrorism. While this gives partial explanations to the clampdown on cryptocurrency in Nigeria, there were uproars from various quarters. Questions were raised on whether or not the ban of crypto was the way forward to the growing interest in digital currencies. The clamour for regulation of cryptocurrency was not only limited to the masses, it includes Senators, Honorable members of the House and the intervention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

About 5 months after the supposed ban on crypto was made, CBN made another giant stride. At the Monetary Policy Committee Meeting (MPC) held on Tuesday, July 27, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, confirmed that a digital currency (CBDC) will be launched in October. What exactly is the CBN digital currency about? How does it affect Nigerians, especially crypto traders? Why does the CBN have to launch digital currency when regulations can be made for the existing cryptocurrency? These and other questions still linger in the minds of financial analysts and crypto enthusiasts.  Thus, the need for this article. 

What is CBDC?

The CBDC is an ‘e-Naira’ that is supported by law and can be used as legal tender. Due to this, it is usually considered as the central bank’s liability.   CBDCs are blockchain-based but centralized and supervised by bank regulators. This is the distinguishing factor between cryptocurrency and CBDC; while the former is highly decentralized, the latter is centralized and regulated by the central bank that created it. To achieve its centralization, every bank connected to the blockchain system can collate transaction data that can be aggregated and relayed to the CBN. Just like stable coins, the digital currencies will be pegged to the fiat Naira at 1:1.  The currency would most likely be issued to commercial banks which in turn be made available to customers. The CBN started research on CBDC in 2017 alongside 80% of other central banks. However, only the Bahamas, the Eastern Caribbean and China have implemented it in practice. The CBDC is set to be Africa’s first digital currency as it is closest to being pulled through. Other countries like South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and Kenya are working on introducing digital fiat currencies. 

How CBDC affects Nigerians: a Gift or a Curse? 

Any Nigerian operating a business will certainly be concerned about the effect of the CBDC on the financial market. For crypto enthusiasts, it is another form of witch-hunt put in place by the central bank to clamp down on cryptocurrency. Since digital currency is the future and cryptocurrency is “evil” as proposed by the apex bank, CBDC will enable faster transactions and promote the development of e-commerce. It will create innovative opportunities in the financial system as new business opportunities will arise from emerging business models, financial products and services. While there seem to be endless advantages of CBDC, its curses are no doubt evident in the ways it will be regulated. Transparency and centralization of the digital currency will enable the central bank to know who is holding what money at a particular point in time. With such regulation in place, the government can use CBDC to surveil the citizens, determine how much they earn, what they use the money for, where they save the money. Since it can be used to determine the amount a particular person earns, it allows the government to leverage tax on citizens. These are the ‘ill’ cryptocurrency permits, hence, its ban. 

Crypto Regulation or CBDC? 

 You may wonder why the central bank is interested in creating its digital currency when it could tap into the existing cryptocurrency. The reason behind this is not far-fetched. One of the important reasons for the ban on cryptocurrency was because it is highly decentralized. Not only because the government does not have control over it but because transactions are only known to the two parties involved without the parties knowing each other. This allows some users to carry out fraudulent activities; cybercrime and money laundering through cryptocurrency. A call for the regulation of cryptocurrency is quite impossible due to its decentralization, to solve the problem of anonymity, there is a need to launch a digital currency that can be monitored. To the Nigerian government, CBDC has the same function as cryptocurrency (except the issue of anonymity which is unimportant if one has nothing to hide). It is the government’s way of regulating crypto and embracing the opportunities the new system provides. 

In conclusion, while the CBDC may seem like a plot by the Nigerian government to further clamp down on cryptocurrency and to monitor the citizens, it is rather counter-productive to critique before it gets launched. For now, it is an idea that is yet to see the light of the day, the loopholes can only be confirmed after its launch in October.  

Comments
Continue Reading

Crypto Assets

How to Approach Cryptocurrency Investment in 2021

Published

on

Years have gone by and many cryptocurrencies have come to be. Speculators and Investors now see cryptocurrency as an alternative to universal currencies like the dollar, euro, and naira. Today, virtually everyone wants to learn how to invest. If you’re looking to invest in cryptocurrency, this article is for you. 

Before diving into the crypto journey, it is important to be aware of what is at stake. For everyone who has acquired immense wealth trading crypto, there is also someone who has lost massive finances while trading. Nevertheless, if you’re still focused on cryptocurrency investment, keep reading. 

Only Invest Money You’re Prepared To Overlook 

Needless to say, you should only invest money you can afford to lose. The main purpose of any form of investment is to add to your fortune. If an individual invests his entire savings, and the said investment doesn’t work out as planned, that is a big loss. So, when investing in Cryptocurrency, whatever amount you put in is completely up to you, but it should only occupy a small percentage of your income, such that, if there is a hiccup, you’re not left completely stranded. 

Make Your Choice 

Choose your cryptocurrency or cryptocurrencies. There are tons of cryptocurrencies to select from and while it’s fine to make good with just one, it’s also not a bad idea to invest in as many as you want, as long as you’re not spending above your means. That way, you gain some, and you lose some. However, if you would rather invest in one, Bitcoin seems to be the most reliable, followed closely by Ethereum.

A downside to trading in cryptocurrencies is that you can’t just walk into a bank or an investment brokerage firm to get them. You have to find sites dedicated to cryptocurrency exchanges. There are several sites like eToro, Coinbase, Gemini, Binance, etc. dedicated to this cause. 

Save Your Cryptocurrency 

Cryptocurrency is mainly stored in either a hot or cold wallet. This wallet permits users to keep and reclaim their digital assets. A user can store cryptocurrencies like Ethereum in their wallet and from there, use it to perform transactions. You have access to your wallet through a public key and a private key. The public key is referred to as your cryptocurrency address and it can be used by the other party in the transaction, while the private key is for you alone. It is important to have both keys to finalize a transaction. In addition, your wallet provides a history of all your transactions, as well as your present balance. 

Safeguard Your Cryptocurrency 

Keeping your cryptocurrency secure after buying it is principal. To encrypt your data, make use of VPNs, like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. These help in securing your transactions and making sure that your purchases are kept a secret from prying eyes. 

Just as with other forms of investment, in cryptocurrency investment, it is important to focus less on what is being said, but rather carry out your own research and study the market to the best of your ability. Do your own fact-finding instead and select the strategy that works best for you. This will help you to have a clear picture of what it is you’re jumping into.

Comments

Decentralize Daily

From Crypto and Blockchain to AI, Fintech and Web 3.0 delivered twice in a week (Mondays and Fridays)

Continue Reading

Artificial Intelligence

How AI Is Helping Fintechs Provide Intelligent And Better Financial Services

Published

on

AI fintech services

We live in an era of data. In today’s world, data is the new gold. The quality of services now significantly depends on how much insight can be extracted from data to help in the creation of the services. For fintech organizations, building services that harness the power of data and artificial intelligence has now become necessary to ensure that the services are tailored to meet the needs of customers. Artificial intelligence is now being used in various ways to help fintech companies provide intelligent and improved services. Some of the major areas of AI application in fintech are discussed in this article.

Risk Assessment

From insurance companies to banks and other fintech institutions, assessing credit worthiness and estimating the level of risk associated with every transaction has become very crucial. Now, many fintech companies employ the use of AI in determining the credit profiles of clients which helps to minimize financial losses when customers fail to repay loans or meet other financial commitments. 

Predicting and preventing fraudulent transactions is another challenge that fintechs are using AI to solve. Using machine learning algorithms, fintech organizations are able to build more accurate fraud detection mechanisms to curb the activities of scammers. The advantage of using machine learning for fraud detection in financial systems is that the machine learning model can learn from the financial data by itself. Thus, it is able to uncover hidden patterns and make a more robust prediction compared to traditional fraud detection algorithms. AI-based fraud detection algorithms can also be used to verify insurance claims and flag fraudulent ones. 

Churn Prediction

Customer churn is an important Key Performance Index (KPI) for any organisation. Preventing customer churn is aimpoaaaustomers and improve customer engagement. Many fintechs across the world now use AI to increase customer retention by understanding customer behaviour and making data-driven decisions to retain the audience of customers.

Intelligent Customer Service

Customer service is an aspect of fintech that has been significantly transformed by AI. The use of AI in this area has drastically reduced the need for human customer care representatives and the cost associated with employing these representatives. With AI, more customers can be attended to more efficiently via chatbots, virtual assistants etc. 

Chatbots are, particularly, one of the most common uses of AI in fintech customer service. Chatbots are sophisticated conversational AI applications that can engage with customers, address complaints and basically fill in the gap of a human employee. Chatbots have now become faster and easier means for customers to fix issues they have while using fintech services.

The Future of Fintech With AI

The use of AI in financial technology extends beyond risk assessment, churn prediction and intelligent customer service. Areas like payment processing and sentiment analysis are also being transformed by AI. Organizations like MasterCard and Visa have been able to improve the quality of their services by leveraging AI to achieve this. Personalized banking and financial services will define the future of financial technology. Better experiences will be developed for each customer in a unique and personalized manner. This may be impossible without AI. The future of fintech is geared towards smarter and more intelligent services, with AI steering the wheel to this future.

Comments
Continue Reading

TRENDING

%d bloggers like this: