Iconic 20th century US retailer Sears has applied for bankruptcy. The business that "pioneered the strategy of selling everything to everyone" has been gradually selling off its assets, and this New York Times story suggests that recently-retired CEO Eddie Lampert has been stripping the company of its assets. America always had a strong mail-order business, and the Sears catalogue helped the company grow a loyal base. In the 1980s, Sears launched credit card business called Discover to offered payment options to its customers. Sears, which still has a credit card brand with Citi, eventually bundled and sold the Discover business, which remains a successful standalone credit card operation. Is there a lesson here for Amazon, which is building an enormous wallet business known as Amazon Pay?
Nigeria will follow India in launching a new category of payment bank in efforts to drive financial inclusion. Inviting public comment on draft regulations by 19 October, the Central Bank of Nigeria envisages the new Payment Service Banks operating in close conjunction with the new agency banking guidelines. Critically, the CBN wants these new operators to be technology driven and to "leverage on digital and mobile services" and the CBN expects applications for PSB licences from agents, telcos, retail chains such as supermarkets, and mobile money operators.
Speaking of which: although little-known in the West, Chinese manufacturer Transsion has taken almost one third of the African smartphone market, with its dual-SIM handsets selling for an average price of under $100, and grabbing a huge chunk of the market from Samsung, whose phones retail in Africa for an average price of $235. The Transsion phones, which are built specifically for Africa, will end up establishing a new standard for smartphones worldwide. "Sewedo Nupowaku, the Lagos-based CEO of entertainment company Revolution Media, says he switched from a Samsung S3 to a Tecno L8 for this reason. 'I can spend 24 hours constantly talking, browsing on this phone, no problem. With a Samsung, no way.'"
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