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Local solutions give TechnoBrain a fighting chance against giants

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Local solutions give TechnoBrain a fighting chance against giants

Manoj Shanker
Manoj Shanker, CEO of TechnoBrain Group. PHOTO | COURTESY 

For the last 21 years, TechnoBrain has been providing digital business solutions such as imports tracking, e-passport, mobile-based healthcare applications as well as e-visa to both governments and private firms.

For instance, by using machine learning, the company has made it possible for banks to trace related transactions in real time, even when they are executed in different branches across the country.

The Kenya-based global custom software development firm has a footprint in several African countries. It has also buit partnerships with global tech giants such as Microsoft, and hosts the US company’s only testing centre in Africa.

Last month, it won a multi-million shilling tender to develop an integrated electronic visa platform for the government of Malawi. The firm’s chief executive officer, Manoj Shanker, spoke to the Business Daily.

TECHNOBRAIN STARTED OFF WITH ONLY SIX EMPLOYEES IN A SMALL OFFICE BUT TODAY, YOU HAVE BUILT A LARGE TEAM OF OVER 1,300 WORKING IN VARIOUS CITIES ACROSS THE WORLD. HOW DID YOU GET HERE?

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Listen to your customers and formulate secure digital solutions that your customers not only manage but have control over. We make software solutions from scratch as per our customers’ local needs, which gives us the leeway to re-invent every solution.We are not resellers of products made by IT software companies but makers of homegrown solutions. We compete against global giants.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE KENYA AS YOUR HEADQUARTERS AND NOT OTHER KNOWN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT HUBS?

We benefit from a highly skilled manpower with a good command of English that we retrain to suit individual client needs. This has seen our company impact the lives of many young people who have advanced coding skills that enable them to develop secure mobile and web-based solutions. From our Nairobi office, we have provided governments with transformational mobile apps and web-based portals for tax management, budgeting, project management, electronic border control, electronic visas, biometric solutions, driving licence and healthcare management systems.

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DO YOU SEND WORKERS TO THESE OTHER COUNTRIES WHERE YOU HAVE OPERATIONS?

We establish the platforms that we then hand over to local teams that we train to operate the platforms. We always make software upgrades to ensure the products evolve with time, thereby protecting customers against fraud or theft of client information. Locally, we have handled several projects for the Kenyan government as well as private companies but there is room for Kenya to do more to seal loopholes where money is lost through badly executed projects. We have tech solutions through which authorising officers can use one-time passwords (OTP) to disburse cash. Once a payment has been made, the next disbursement will only be done upon provision of proof that work has been done and the same documented through a project management chain. Every player along the chain logs in to verify details and will be held accountable in case evidence is found that nothing happened on the ground.

HOW ARE YOUR PRODUCTS DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS MADE ELSEWHERE BUT SOLD LOCALLY?

Organisations buying imported products do not know what exactly they are buying and lack proper control of their platforms. Our products are locally built according to a client’s needs, with locals trained to use the products. Ours are affordable as we directly engage governments and private companies instead of using intermediaries that expect a commission for their work.

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR CLIENTS IN KENYA AND ACROSS AFRICA?

Banks, insurance companies, manufacturers, tourism boards, retail centres, airlines and governments.

DO YOU ALSO DEVELOP PRODUCTS FOR SALE?

Yes, we have local software engineers handling such product developments. Our revenue management system is being used by 100 county governments in four African countries and here in Kenya, by the Kwale county government. Everything we have built can be used to digitise various processes in government and in the private sector.

For every product we sell locally, we employ more Kenyans to oversee the systems on behalf of individual companies. We need to buy locally to benefit more Kenyans and the Kenyan economy.

We have three training centres and are already in talks with the government to create a new curriculum that addresses the needs of industry on a tech platform.

We also host the fourth-largest product testing centre for global IT giant Microsoft. Our centre, the only one in Africa and manned by Kenyans, has exclusive access to Windows Insider software products that are yet to be released in the global market.

WHERE DO YOU SEE TECHNOBRAIN GOING FROM HERE?

We are a digital company that solves problems for companies and governments. We are entrenching our capabilities in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and innovations that will enable governments and businesses take advantage of a digital world.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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