Firm demands N2 billion from Etisalat for alleged copyrights infringement
24 March 2017
A mobile finance technology firm, V-Exchange Limited, has demanded for N2 billion from Etisalat as compensation for an alleged infringement on its product’s copyright. V-Exchange, which specialises in providing instant finance solutions to individuals and corporate entities via intelligent data driven platform, claimed that the ‘Kwik Cash’ loan service which Etisalat offers to its customers is a stolen product.
While addressing journalists in Lagos, the co-founder of V-Exchange, Samuel Ajiboyede, claimed that on November 23, 2016, he met with representatives of Etisalat regarding his company’s product and for the purpose of partnering with them for mutual commercial benefits.
Ajiboyede explained that at the meeting, the loan service product was showcased to Etisalat officials, who upon being impressed by the demonstration asked to be furnished with more details.
He further said he was advised by Etisalat officials to obtain the Nigeria Communications Commission, (NCC) Short Code being the only thing remaining for a deal to be sealed between the two entities.
Ajiboyede said he subsequently requested for a Memorandum of Understanding from Etisalat to enable his company acquire a Value Added Service (VAS) licence to get the Short Code approval from NCC but that the request was never accented to.
The V-Exchange co-founder said he was however shocked when it heard that Etisalat had gone ahead to launch the instant loan service without his approval. Also speaking at the media briefing, the Chief Executive Officer, V-Exchange, Mrs Kemi Ayinde, noted that well-wishers had called to congratulate her on the successful launch of the product not knowing that her firm was not involved with the launch.
However, a letter written by the law firm of Ubani and Co. to the Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, dated January 10, 2017, demanding N2 billion as compensation for the alleged copyright infringement.
The letter reads in part: ‘’Our client has tested your product on several customers of your company and confirmed that the said product was the exact product for which it has exclusive right.
‘’That this abysmal unlawful conduct of your company as highlighted above, has infringed our client’s products for which copyright subsisted despite the caveat by known owners being ‘our client’ that no part of this shall be reproduced or copied in any material form without its prior authorisation.”
But responding to the issue, Etisalat denied the allegations, describing the claims as unfounded. In a text message reply to The Guardian enquiry on Monday, Etisalat’s Head of Corporate Communications, Oluseyi Osuntedo , explained that Kwikcash is a financial service owned and operated by a licensed financial institution with all relevant approvals from NCC and CBN to offer service, stressing that the owner of the product merely offers the service on Etisalat’s network platform.
According to her, long before Etisalat received V-Exchange Ltd’s proposal and the subsequent meeting, Etisalat had commenced pilot launch of KwikCash with the owner. “Even during the meeting with V-Exchange in November 2016, the discussions were for a different product, which purported to use airtime for payment or to transfer monetary value. Etisalat could not proceed with that as it’s not a permitted transaction going by mobile payments guideline.
“In addition, V-Exchange could not provide relevant approvals allowing it to provide the service. KwickCash was deployed on Etisalat’s network platform well before the proposal by V-Exchange.”