Digital Borrowing Habits in Kenya, Facebook Fights Fake News & Google's New Podcast Experience


That's hello in isiXhosa.

We launched StopReflectVerify this past week and it has been a pleasure to see the response online. To those of you who took the quiz and shared your constructive criticism, it is much appreciated. I'm also grateful for the coverage Abdi-Latif Dahir gave in his Quartz Africa scoop. Expect more pieces on this in the coming weeks.

Facebook has also announced their own anti-fake news campaign, currently US-based, to restore its reputation by using a familiar message: they're returning to the formula that got them here in the first place — your friends. More on WIRED.

With that said, let's get to the tasting menu of links for the week.

What to Sip (<30 sec read)

“50% of Facebook's engineering effort goes into stuffing more noise into the newsfeed, and the other 50% into working out ways to filter it.”

Ben Evans presents a thoughtful take on the fact that there's more news feed than we can ever scroll through (he guesstimates it at some +1,500 items per day).

What to Nibble (<5 min read)

We've used the newsletter to cover African podcasts before. I probably listen to 4-5.5 hours of podcasts a week, usually at chipmunk-sounding speed thanks to Overcast — an iOS app that shortens silences in speech and speeds up the pace of conversation.

There are game-changing developments heading to Google devices and the wider Android ecosystem. You can now play episodes straight from search results, and will soon be able to switch seamlessly between devices with the audio picking up right where you left off. Pacific Content review what's already changed and preview what's yet to come here.

This is huge. Podcasts are often seen as quite niche. Nendo had a prediction in our 2014 trend report around audio that never came to pass. Google's change signals a new age that can see them beat Apple and iTunes, the global leader in the podcast industry, to new audiences and ears.

What to Bite (<20 min read)

YouTube's algorithm has been covered here in the newsletter before, the focus last time was on the risk of children getting addicted to the platform. The YouTube algorithm is also known to serve some weird, wacky and offensive material to minors.

Bloomberg's feature on how the YouTube (#5 most visited site in Kenya) is looking to clean up its act contrasts to how the video sharing site made its money in the attention economy through extremist propaganda, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and offensive content.

Closing of the newsletter

M-Pesa is a juggernaut when it comes to peer-to-peer, business and utility payments. There has always been a looming question around credit and savings.

FSD (Financial Sector Deepening) and Kenya's Central Bank put together some interesting thoughts on the digital credit space that are worth a look. As data continues to be a focus, many of the platforms in the digital lending space often use Facebook and mobile app data, sometimes via dubious permissions that you're often unaware of, to perform credit scoring.

The FSD study determined 1 in 4 Kenyans have taken a digital loan, providing insight that explains how mobile apps market leader Tala lends over $10 million per month to their +1 million users, most of whom are Kenyans. Or how M-Shwari, the mobile credit market leader, processes an average of 300,000 loan applications a day, accepting up to 100,000 of them.

However, users do pay a high price for these tools. Annualised percentage rates vary between 12% and 621%, according to CGAP.

Nendo is hiring!

We're excited to have more people joining our team here at Nendo, and we're now searching for a Designer. As a subscriber to The Letter N, you're the first to hear about this. Take a look at details of the position here, and if you know someone who fits the bill please share this with them.

I also want to give a shoutout to the great team at Nairobits. They do the technology, design and creative industry a mighty service by providing design, coding, entrepreneurship and ICT skills to youth from informal settlements. I've had the chance to speak with their team and leadership, and gave a guest lecture there years ago. I appreciate their work and recommend you check them out if you've never heard of them.

That's it from the team and I for now. Here's to logging off until the next letter.

Mark & Team Nendo.

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