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UAE’s TII launches $300M Falcon Foundation for AI development. 2 other stories and a trivia

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This line-up of stories will help you discover the latest happenings around the tech world, today.

1. UAE’s TII launches $300M Falcon Foundation for AI development

The Technology Innovation Institute (TII), based in the UAE and serving as the applied research arm of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), has unveiled a $300 million non-profit initiative, the Falcon Foundation, dedicated to advancing open-source generative AI models.

Dr. Ray O. Johnson, CEO of TII, confirmed this in a statement seen by Ripples Nigeria on Thursday February 15, 2024.

The Foundation, according to the CEO, seeks to foster sustainable ecosystems centered around open-source projects that facilitate the rapid advancement of technology.

Leveraging TII’s indigenous Falcon AI models, the foundation is expected to bring together stakeholders, developers, academia, industry, and individuals.

Further speaking on the development, Dr. Ray emphasized the commitment to promoting transparency and collaboration in AI development, saying, “By extending the UAE’s collaborative ethos to AI advancement, we are establishing new benchmarks for openness. We invite all global entities supporting open source to join us in this endeavor.”

Trivia: Which of the following is a cross-platform development framework?

A. Proton
B. Neutron
C. Electron
D. Atom
See Answer below

2. Carbon Acquires Vella Finance

A Pan-African fintech startup, Carbon, has announced expanding its offerings by acquiring Vella Finance, a Nigerian fintech startup specializing in SME banking through its parent company, One Credit Limited.

Chijioke Dozie, Co-founder of Carbon, confirmed this in a statement seen by Ripples Nigeria on Thursday February 15th, 2024.

Founded in December 2021 by Mark Afolabi (CEO), Tolu Adedayo (COO), Gabriel Ajenifuja (CTO), and Segun Fagbami (CPO), Vella Finance initially focused on cross-border payments for businesses before shifting its attention to crypto transactions and SME banking.

The acquisition holds strategic importance for Carbon as it aims to harness Vella Finance’s AI-powered transaction analysis feature, providing business customers with actionable insights derived from their financial transactions.

Tolu Adedayo, speaking on the development, highlighted the close relationship between the two companies, revealing Carbon’s prior involvement in Vella Finance’s pre-seed raise.

Chijioke, who praised Vella Finance’s innovative approach and market understanding, described their SME platform as unparalleled and affirmed the acquisition as a logical step in Carbon’s growth trajectory.

He said: “They had built an SME platform that we believe is unrivaled in the market, and given our aspirations, the deal was a no-brainer.”

3. MasterCard unveils new West Africa country manager

MasterCard, a prominent player in digital payments and technology, has announced the appointment of Folasade Femi-Lawal as the Country Manager and Area Business Director for West Africa.

Mark Elliott, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa at Mastercard, confirmed this new appointment in a statement seen by Ripples Nigeria on Thursday February 15, 2024.

In her new capacity, Femi-Lawal will play a pivotal role in fostering collaborations with key stakeholders to advance the development of a more integrated and inclusive digital economy across West Africa.

Before joining MasterCard, Femi-Lawal held senior executive positions, leading mobile financial services and digital banking strategy at First Bank, Nigeria and served as the Head of the loan monitoring arm at the United Bank of Africa, overseeing credit risk management.

Speaking on the new appointment, Elliott stated: “We are delighted to welcome Folasade to the Mastercard family. Folasade’s vast experience across the digital payments’ ecosystem will be a huge asset to the Mastercard business in West Africa.

“She arrives at a pivotal time when digital innovation is transforming the country’s payments landscape, moving Nigeria toward a cashless society. Folasade will work closely with various private and public sector stakeholders in the country to help further this transformation.”

In response, Femi-Lawal said: “Mastercard’s unwavering commitment to excellence, cutting-edge solutions, partnerships, and initiatives have consistently set industry standards as it concerns financial inclusion, economic empowerment, digital transformation, and innovation.”

Trivia Answer: Electron

Electron is an open source, crossplatform application framework. Software developers can use Electron to create apps using a mix of web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript instead of platform-specific programming languages.

Since it’s a crossplatform framework, developers can create apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux using a single codebase.

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