Nigerian banks strike again

About Fatu
By Fatu Ogwuche

Top of mind: Happy Sunday!

Sending a belated International Women’s Day shoutout to the incredible women walking in purpose, raising brilliant children, and taking no prisoners at work. May we know them, may we celebrate them, may we be them.

3 big things:

  • Nigerian banks strike
  • Joe Biden’s orders
  • Russia’s losing technology

Nigerian banks limit international web transactions

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele | Image credit: ThisDay

The short: Nigerian banks announced a new limit of $20 monthly on international web transactions using local currency debit cards – thanks to the Central Bank. 

Word on the street: Nigeria’s Central Bank informed local banks that they would need to source US dollars by themselves because Nigeria’s dollar reserves are drying up, and the country is struggling to meet obligations to investors. 

Essential internet: It’s a new era for Nigerian internet subscribers who use their local currency-denominated cards to subscribe to tech services. The current situation means an annual subscription for most essential services is out of reach for the ordinary Nigerian.

For some others, it means they need to choose which services to keep. The standard monthly payment for Apple Music, Spotify, iCloud, Gmail, and Netflix is beyond the new limit.

Heads up – you might want to pause on adding items to cart. It’s the era of the essential internet. Pay for what you truly need.

Big picture: FinTech to the rescue! Since introducing the previous $100 monthly limit, most Nigerian internet consumers switched to virtual card services for their internet transactions. Services like Barter by Flutterwave allow customers to create USD cards from their Naira accounts up to a $10,000 limit.

In addition, startups like Bitmama will create crypto-backed cards that enable users to “spend globally without FX limits”. Final thoughts: The restrictions present a bearish outlook for the Nigerian consumer internet market, but they reflect the ingenuity of Nigerian startups still innovating in the middle of dysfunction.

Why Biden’s cryptocurrency executive order matters

POTUS, Joe Biden | Image credit: WSJ

The short: In a significant milestone for the cryptocurrency industry, President Biden signed an executive order to ensure the responsible development of digital assets. 

What’s more: Biden’s Executive Order sets the stage for a framework for cryptocurrency oversight and regulation. The order establishes a 180-day timeline for a “framework for enhancing the United States’ economic competitiveness in, and leveraging of digital asset technologies.” 

Big picture: It’s a big deal and a validating moment for crypto. The order cites crypto’s explosive growth with a $3 trillion market cap, acknowledging that it is now mainstream. Per the order, this approach to crypto aims to ensure the US retains currency sovereignty and global dominance, fostering competitiveness and investor protection.

One for Ukraine: Ukraine received $100 million in cryptocurrency donations – according to the country’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation. Crypto has afforded the country a much-needed lifeline and allowed it to buy weapons and relief supplies for its distressed population.

President Biden’s order will expand international cooperation on combating illicit financing. Russian officials and oligarchs seeking to evade financial sanctions using cryptocurrency are likely targets of this order.

One significant development: Payments company Stripe is returning to crypto after a four-year absence. Stripe expressed doubts over bitcoin’s effectiveness as a payment medium in 2014, leading to its crypto services shutdown. Announcing its return, the company said in a blog post that its “optimism for the future of crypto was not unfounded.” So, they’re back with a vengeance.Final thoughts: It took them a while, but Biden’s government is joining countries like India, El Salvador & Australia in regulating crypto. It’s a good sign. The Executive Order means crypto would be an essential part of the US economy, which would help crypto investors sleep better at night.

Big tech sanctions continue to pile on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin | Image credit: EIR

The short: Big tech companies have expanded sanctions targeting Russia as Putin’s administration doubles down its aggression in Ukraine. 

Tech sanctions till date:

  • Google and Meta suspended advertising.
  • Netflix suspended its services.
  • Paypal, Visa and Mastercard cut Russia off.
  • Samsung and Apple stopped selling products.
  • Microsoft, Amazon, and Google suspended sales of cloud services.
  • Sony, Warner Bros. and Disney suspended film premieres and releases.
  • Epic Games, Activision Blizzard and EA paused game sales.
  • Airbnb suspended operations in Russia & Belarus.
  • Russia will ban Instagram on March 14th.

Final thoughts: Big tech sanctions are wreaking chaos on Russia’s economy. The bigger story is how much power tech wields in imposing private sanctions on sovereign governments without repercussion. But, in a world where Russia possesses incredible leverage, it’s great to see private companies hit them where it hurts.

That’s it for the week. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this week’s issue. Please respond to this email or find me on Twitter @fatuogwuche 🙂 

Ps – do us a solid by sharing the newsletter with your network of tech enthusiasts. Invite them to join the party 🙂

See you next Sunday!

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