In its first year of existence, Rand Merchant Investment’s (RMI) club for fintech startup entrepreneurs, AlphaCode, has clocked up over a thousand members. It has seen eight member-to-member deals, eight deals facilitated with RMI portfolio companies, invested R9-million into 11 different black-owned business through a partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and invested in Merchant Capital, a provider of alternative sources of working capital for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa.
The top tier members are building innovative fintech solutions that cut across the spectrum of financial service disciplines – from lending, payments and financial literacy to blockchain, robo-advising and data analytics. Many operate as successful financial technology businesses, while others are using the networking, sharing and mentoring offered at AlphaCode to launch.
AlphaCode was established to identify, partner and grow extraordinary entrepreneurs who are pioneering the next frontier of financial services.
Senior Investment Executive at Rand Merchant Investments (RMI) Dominique Collett, explains: “The Rand Merchant Group has a history of partnering extraordinary entrepreneurs who have built disruptive, successful businesses such as RMB, Discovery and OUTsurance. To accelerate the kind of financial innovation that we envisaged we knew we needed two things. Firstly, to get the right people into the right room at the right time and secondly to apply growth capital to the best fintech ideas.
“AlphaCode has brought us in touch with SA’s most promising fintech entrepreneurs. Our members have won South African and international awards, they have bravely launched new products and forged new partnerships.”
Michael Bowren, co-founder of Fincheck, an online comparison portal for consumers purchasing financial products says,”AlphaCode has provided a great launch platform. It offers young companies a large networking web into the fintech world. Our experience and participation have allowed us to meet innovative companies and people to the benefit of our business,” Bowren says.
Collett cites just a few examples of AlphaCode members:
* Bankymoon has started consulting to the SA Reserve Bank on blockchain technology. It focuses on providing blockchain solutions to the financial services industry and has its own wallet and payment products.
* SASA Solutions is a digital fintech company that is driving financial inclusion.
* Isazi Consulting is a company which looks at machine learning and optimisation. Izasi, which means ‘bearer of knowledge’ or ‘scientist’ in isiZulu, has also generated a staggering 226 percent return on the BEE funds it received, and has secured a further R1,9-million in license fees from the data visualisation tool they built.
* iKhokha partnered with Mastercard to roll out 700 innovative new point-of-sale devices.
* Mama Money has been partnering with traditional players to bring down the cost of remittances on the African continent.
* Peach Payments provides payment solutions to online and mobile businesses enabling them to easily accept payments from consumers across the globe and especially from those in the emerging markets.
* Hello Paisa, developers of a solution that quickly, cheaply, and securely lets users send money, won the MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre prize for 2016.
* Livestock Wealth’s Ntuthuko Shezi was recognised as one of Ventureburn’s top entrepreneurs under 40.
* Bright On Capital is a peer-to-peer online enterprise-lending platform that is going from strength to strength.
* Imafin is a specialist payment and commercial credit firm driven by innovation on traditional payment models, and enjoying success every step of the way.
* Merchant Capital offers merchant cash advance, an alternative source of working capital designed specifically for SMEs in South Africa – Rand Merchant Investments Holdings has taken a stake in this business.
* Entersekt – with clients that include most of the banks in South Africa and customers in East and West Africa, Europe and the Middle East, this business is set for global expansion. It offers authentication and mobile security solutions that make the digital world safer to bank and shop.
AlphaCode club also partnered with Envestnet Yodlee to make the company’s range of tools and services available to members at a discounted rate. It joined the Global Fintech Hubs Federation to unlock a worldwide network of fintech thought leaders and potential partners.
“AlphaCode aims to be the epicentre of the fintech ecosystem in South Africa and Africa and we are keen to learn from other emerging markets,” says Collett.