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The Role of Technology in Unifying Africa’s Capital Markets

Source: Finance Derivative

Author – Eugene Tawiah CEO and co-founder of SecondSTAX

  • Can you elaborate on the current state of African capital markets and the challenges they face in terms of fragmentation and accessibility for investors outside their respective jurisdictions?

Despite having some of the best-performing stocks and bonds globally, Africa’s exchanges are largely inaccessible to investors outside the jurisdictions where they are domiciled.

The siloed nature of these exchanges as well as insufficient data on the risk profiles of assets has led to limited access to capital for markets and limited access to high-growth assets for investors.

  • SecondSTAX aims to unify African capital markets through technology. Could you explain how your platform facilitates seamless investment and trading across borders, and what specific technological innovations enable this integration?

We facilitate seamless investment and trading across African borders by leveraging innovative technologies such as our cloud-based smart order management and execution routing system which allows investors to trade across multiple African exchanges with ease. 

Our integration of liquidity partners on our platform has mitigated the risks involved with currency disparities and exchange and has aided us in facilitating a seamless trade environment and also in reducing the impact of currency volatility on our users.

Lastly, our platform provides investors with access to real-time and the latest trading news, emerging research on trends and economic data from reliable local sources. This feature allows investors to make informed decisions by having necessary data accessible on a single platform.

  • Collaboration and integration within African capital markets are crucial for fostering economic growth and development. How does SecondSTAX work with exchanges like the Nigeria Exchange Group, Ghana Stock Exchange, and Nairobi Securities Exchange to promote this collaboration, and what benefits does it bring to investors and issuers? 

Through our collaboration with the Nigeria Exchange Group, Ghana Stock Exchange, and the Nairobi Securities Exchange and the utilization of our portal, we significantly expand our users’ access to high-growth assets, effectively opening up African capital markets to a broader audience of both local and international investors. 

These partnerships not only enhance market liquidity but also foster intra-region trading, ultimately integrating African capital markets. Furthermore, our alliances with the African Securities Exchanges Association and African Development Bank facilitate the seamless movement of investments between exchanges and licensed investment firms, empowering firms to engage in trades beyond their domicile jurisdictions within the African region. 

By offering a centralized database of information, we empower investors to make well-informed decisions about their assets, further strengthening the efficiency and transparency of African capital markets.

  • In what ways do you see SecondSTAX contributing to the promotion of innovative financial solutions for African businesses? Can you provide examples of how your platform supports businesses in accessing capital and expanding their operations?

Our intuitive, cutting-edge cloud-based platform facilitates seamless investment and allows investors to securely buy and sell stocks and bonds across multiple African exchanges with ease. 

We aim to streamline the investment process and enable investors to manage their investments from a single portal, providing functionality for every aspect of the investment lifecycle—from know-your-customer (KYC) verification to account onboarding through to trading and settlement in multiple local currencies.

Our partnerships with renowned brokerage firms such as Kestrel Capital (Kenya), Databank Group (Ghana), and Afrinvest (Nigeria) allow for investments to be made in native currencies thus allowing for an easier pathway to wealth accumulation in Africa. 

Also, our partnerships with multiple exchanges enhance economic growth and investment opportunities in those regions, allowing businesses greater access to more affordable long-term funding from capital markets supporting their growth and increasing market liquidity.

  • With the rapid advancement of technology, what opportunities do you foresee for further enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of African capital markets? How do you envision SecondSTAX evolving to capitalize on these opportunities?

New technologies serve as an enabler and force multiplier to improve the lives of investors across the globe. This is true for developed countries and is certainly the case for the African continent as well. Artificial (General) Intelligence (AI/AGI) is very relevant to the evolution of the African capital markets, and we are already incorporating it into our platform as a way to synthesize timely trade ideas from the rapidly changing news, detailed research and market trading data available across the various stock and bond exchanges in Africa. 

This will democratize investing, making the African capital markets dramatically more accessible to everyone, from the savvy professional trader through to the novice investor, looking for the opportunity to grow their wealth. 

With 100+ years of combined technology and finance experience deploying complex large-scale systems and having built similar products and services at globally renowned firms, our team of experts at SecondSTAX believes we can create the frameworks that shall be used to turn these unique insights into opportunities for investors to trade more effectively and generate improved investment returns across Africa.

  • One of the goals of SecondSTAX is to attract investments from both African and international investors. How does your platform address concerns about regulatory compliance and investor protection in cross-border transactions?

We partner with well-established licensed brokerage firms with a multi-decade track record of trading and execution excellence within their local capital market jurisdiction, ensuring we efficiently operate and mitigate emerging risks within the regulatory frameworks of the markets we operate in. This also helps us to securely leverage the robust existing market infrastructure for trade facilitation and settlement thereby encouraging trust and credibility with both the regulatory bodies and investors.

  • Looking ahead, what is your vision for the future of African capital markets, and how do you believe SecondSTAX will contribute to realizing this vision? Additionally, what role do you think technology will play in shaping the future landscape of capital markets in Africa?

We hope for a unified African capital market, and in five years, we will be successfully integrated into major African capital markets, and be a trading and execution vendor partner commanding at least 25% of all African capital market transactions into and between these markets. We would also have launched services to support the investment goals of retail investors, facilitating simple transactions for them. We expect that by enabling the shift to a more efficient capital markets ecosystem in Africa, we will reduce the overall cost of funding for projects in both the private sector and the public sector.

The use of technological inputs on our platform will result in a vibrant capital markets ecosystem which should drive growth for all African emerging economies.

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Driving business success in today’s data-driven world through data governance

Source: Finance derivative

Andrew Abraham, Global Managing Director, Data Quality, Experian

It’s a well-known fact that we are living through a period of digital transformation, where new technology is revolutionising how we live, learn, and work. However, what this has also led to is a significant increase in data. This data holds immense value, yet many businesses across all sectors struggle to manage it effectively. They often face challenges such as fragmented data silos or lack the expertise and resources to leverage their datasets to the fullest.

As a result, data governance has become an essential topic for executives and industry leaders. In a data-driven world, its importance cannot be overstated. Combine that with governments and regulatory bodies rightly stepping up oversight of the digital world to protect citizens’ private and personal data. This has resulted in businesses also having to comply e with several statutes more accurately and frequently.

We recently conducted some research to gauge businesses’ attitudes toward data governance in today’s economy. The findings are not surprising: 83% of those surveyed acknowledged that data governance should no longer be an afterthought and could give them a strategic advantage. This is especially true for gaining a competitive edge, improving service delivery, and ensuring robust compliance and security measures.

However, the research also showed that businesses face inherent obstacles, including difficulties in integration and scalability and poor data quality, when it comes to managing data effectively and responsibly throughout its lifecycle.

So, what are the three fundamental steps to ensure effective data governance?

Regularly reviewing Data Governance approaches and policies

Understanding your whole data estate, having clarity about who owns the data, and implementing rules to govern its use means being able to assess whether you can operate efficiently and identify where to drive operational improvements. To do that effectively, you need the right data governance framework. Implementing a robust data governance framework will allow businesses to ensure their data is fit for purpose, improves accuracy, and mitigates the detrimental impact of data silos.

The research also found that data governance approaches are typically reviewed annually (46%), with another 47% reviewing it more frequently. Whilst the specific timeframe differs for each business, they should review policies more frequently than annually. Interestingly, 6% of companies surveyed in our research have it under continual review.

Assembling the right team

A strong team is crucial for effective cross-departmental data governance.  

The research identified that almost three-quarters of organisations, particularly in the healthcare industry, are managing data governance in-house. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed had already established dedicated data governance teams to oversee daily operations and mitigate potential security risks.

This strategic investment highlights the proactive approach to enhancing data practices to achieve a competitive edge and improve their financial performance. The emphasis on organisational focus highlights the pivotal role of dedicated teams in upholding data integrity and compliance standards.

Choose data governance investments wisely

With AI changing how businesses are run and being seen as a critical differentiator, nearly three-quarters of our research said data governance is the cornerstone to better AI. Why? Effective data governance is essential for optimising AI capabilities, improving data quality, automated access control, metadata management, data security, and integration.

In addition, almost every business surveyed said it will invest in its data governance approaches in the next two years. This includes investing in high-quality technologies and tools and improving data literacy and skills internally.  

Regarding automation, the research showed that under half currently use automated tools or technologies for data governance; 48% are exploring options, and 15% said they have no plans.

This shows us a clear appetite for data governance investment, particularly in automated tools and new technologies. These investments also reflect a proactive stance in adapting to technological changes and ensuring robust data management practices that support innovation and sustainable growth.

Looking ahead

Ultimately, the research showed that 86% of businesses recognised the growing importance of data governance over the next five years. This indicates that effective data governance will only increase its importance in navigating digital transformation and regulatory demands.

This means businesses must address challenges like integrating governance into operations, improving data quality, ensuring scalability, and keeping pace with evolving technology to mitigate risks such as compliance failures, security breaches, and data integrity issues.

Embracing automation will also streamline data governance processes, allowing organisations to enhance compliance, strengthen security measures, and boost operational efficiency. By investing strategically in these areas, businesses can gain a competitive advantage, thrive in a data-driven landscape, and effectively manage emerging risks.

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The Benefits of EV Salary Sacrifice: A Guide for Employers and Employees

As the UK government continues to push for greener initiatives, electric cars have become increasingly popular. The main attraction for both employers and employees is the EV salary sacrifice scheme.

By participating in an EV salary sacrifice scheme, both employers and employees can enjoy cost savings and contribute to environmental sustainability along the way! This article will delve into the specifics of how these schemes operate, the financial advantages they offer, and the broader positive impacts on sustainability.

We will provide a comprehensive overview of the mechanics behind EV salary sacrifice schemes and discuss the various ways in which they benefit both employees and employers, ultimately supporting the transition to a greener future in the UK.

What is an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme?

An EV salary sacrifice scheme is a flexible financial arrangement that permits employees to lease an EV through their employer. The key feature of this scheme is that the leasing cost is deducted directly from the employee’s gross salary before tax and National Insurance contributions are applied. By reducing the taxable income, employees can benefit from substantial savings on both tax and National Insurance payments. This arrangement not only makes EVs more affordable for employees but also aligns with governmental incentives to reduce carbon emissions.

For employers, implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme can lead to cost efficiencies as well. The reduction in National Insurance contributions on the employee’s reduced gross salary can offset some of the costs associated with administering the scheme. Additionally, such programmes can enhance the overall benefits package offered by the employer, making the company more attractive to prospective and current employees.

Benefits for Employees

1. Tax and National Insurance Savings

By opting for an EV salary sacrifice scheme, employees can benefit from reduced tax and National Insurance contributions. Since the lease payments are made from the gross salary, the taxable income decreases, resulting in substantial savings.

2. Access to Premium EVs

Leading salary sacrifice car schemes often provide access to high-end electric vehicles that might be otherwise unaffordable. Employees can enjoy the latest EV models with advanced features, contributing to a more enjoyable and environmentally friendly driving experience.

3. Lower Running Costs

Electric vehicles typically have lower running costs compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. With savings on fuel, reduced maintenance costs, and exemptions from certain charges (such as London’s Congestion Charge), employees can enjoy significant long-term financial benefits.

4. Environmental Impact

Driving an electric vehicle reduces the carbon footprint and supports the UK’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Employees can take pride in contributing to a cleaner environment.

Benefits for Employers

1. Attract and Retain Talent

Offering an EV salary sacrifice scheme can enhance an employer’s benefits package, making it more attractive to potential recruits. It also helps in retaining current employees by providing them with valuable and cost-effective benefits.

2. Cost Neutrality

For employers, EV salary sacrifice schemes are often cost-neutral. The savings on National Insurance contributions can offset the administrative costs of running the scheme, making it an economically viable option.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This can improve the company’s public image and align with broader environmental goals.

4. Employee Well-being

Providing employees with a cost-effective means to drive electric vehicles can contribute to their overall well-being. With lower running costs and the convenience of driving a new EV, employees may experience reduced financial stress and increased job satisfaction.

How to Implement an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme

1. Assess Feasibility

Evaluate whether an EV salary sacrifice scheme is feasible for your organisation. Consider the number of interested employees, potential cost savings, and administrative requirements.

2. Choose a Provider

Select a reputable provider that offers a range of electric vehicles and comprehensive support services. Ensure they can handle the administrative tasks and provide a seamless experience for both the employer and employees.

3. Communicate the Benefits

Educate your employees about the advantages of the scheme. Highlight the financial savings, environmental impact, and access to premium EV models. Provide clear guidance on how they can participate in the programme.

4. Monitor and Review

Regularly review the scheme’s performance to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your employees and the organisation. Gather feedback and make adjustments as necessary to enhance the programme’s effectiveness.


The EV salary sacrifice scheme offers a win-win situation for both employers and employees in the UK. With significant financial savings, access to premium vehicles, and a positive environmental impact, it’s an attractive option for forward-thinking organisations. By implementing such a scheme, employers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and employee well-being, while employees can enjoy the benefits of driving an electric vehicle at a reduced cost.

Adopting an EV salary sacrifice scheme is a step towards a greener, more sustainable future for everyone.

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Machine Learning Interpretability for Enhanced Cyber-Threat Attribution

Source: Finance Derivative

By: Dr. Farshad Badie,  Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science and Informatics, Berlin School of Business and Innovation

This editorial explores the crucial role of machine learning (ML) in cyber-threat attribution (CTA) and emphasises the importance of interpretable models for effective attribution.

The Challenge of Cyber-Threat Attribution

Identifying the source of cyberattacks is a complex task due to the tactics employed by threat actors, including:

  • Routing attacks through proxies: Attackers hide their identities by using intermediary servers.
  • Planting false flags: Misleading information is used to divert investigators towards the wrong culprit.
  • Adapting tactics: Threat actors constantly modify their methods to evade detection.

These challenges necessitate accurate and actionable attribution for:

  • Enhanced cybersecurity defences: Understanding attacker strategies enables proactive defence mechanisms.
  • Effective incident response: Swift attribution facilitates containment, damage minimisation, and speedy recovery.
  • Establishing accountability: Identifying attackers deters malicious activities and upholds international norms.

Machine Learning to the Rescue

Traditional machine learning models have laid the foundation, but the evolving cyber threat landscape demands more sophisticated approaches. Deep learning and artificial neural networks hold promise for uncovering hidden patterns and anomalies. However, a key consideration is interpretability.

The Power of Interpretability

Effective attribution requires models that not only deliver precise results but also make them understandable to cybersecurity experts. Interpretability ensures:

  • Transparency: Attribution decisions are not shrouded in complexity but are clear and actionable.
  • Actionable intelligence: Experts can not only detect threats but also understand the “why” behind them.
  • Improved defences: Insights gained from interpretable models inform future defence strategies.

Finding the Right Balance

The ideal model balances accuracy and interpretability. A highly accurate but opaque model hinders understanding, while a readily interpretable but less accurate model provides limited value. Selecting the appropriate model depends on the specific needs of each attribution case.

Interpretability Techniques

Several techniques enhance the interpretability of ML models for cyber-threat attribution:

  • Feature Importance Analysis: Identifies the input data aspects most influential in the model’s decisions, allowing experts to prioritise investigations.
  • Local Interpretability: Explains the model’s predictions for individual instances, revealing why a specific attribution was made.
  • Rule-based Models: Provide clear guidelines for determining the source of cyber threats, promoting transparency and easy understanding.

Challenges and the Path Forward

The lack of transparency in complex ML models hinders their practical application. Explainable AI, a field dedicated to making models more transparent, holds the key to fostering trust and collaboration between human and machine learning. Researchers are continuously refining interpretability techniques, with the ultimate goal being a balance between model power and decision-making transparency.

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