South African fintech Curve Technology Group has expanded to the UK with the opening of a new office in London.
Curve’s UK presence will make the company’s technology available to a new market with the company already having secured several international clients.
Established in March 2016, the founders of the business have grown Curve into a multi-million rand company with four offices in two countries in just 15 months. It is doing so by employing a cost-efficient South African team to solve business problems for global customers, and then ploughing that revenue back into the group.
“We started the business with a number of key founding members, and without external investors,” says Fred Baumhardt, CEO of Curve Technology Group. “We identified a gap in the market and customers willing to pay for our solutions. The company has been in profit from day one thanks to doing things a bit differently, and we are now ready for expansion.”
Baumhardt says his vision is to create Africa’s first multinational software house. Curve went the minimum viable product route in its early days – across a range of different business lines – enabling the company to meet a wide range of customer needs and demands without turning anyone away. At every opportunity, Curve developers created maximum value platforms, a strategy which is now paying off smartly.
“We are selling South African banking technology to the UK and Germany and bringing that revenue back home. We are ready to compete with global companies, and we are agile and able to deliver more quickly thanks to our iterative development processes. At the same time, we are not a faceless multinational; we have a number of cooperative teams who are managed based on outcomes alone.”
Asked about the difficulties of expanding abroad, Baumhardt says that it is often easier to do business overseas than it is at home.
“There are socio-economic components to doing business in South Africa that complicate matters,” he says. “In the UK and Europe, clients want to know if your solutions are commercially and technically superior and if you can deliver on time and within budget. Nothing else matters to them. We are used to dealing with much more complexity in this country, which makes doing business overseas that much simpler. If you can do well in this market, you can thrive overseas. Two recent deals closed in the UK means that a substantial portion of our revenue this year will come from abroad.”
The group has built 52 pre-assembled solutions that can be delivered to clients within six weeks. It’s about engineering once and producing multiple times, Baumhardt says. “Our banking system is ready to be deployed anywhere,” he says. “All we have to do is change the look and feel according to the customer’s corporate identity. We are simply not competing with big corporates on their terms.”
A key UK client is Fourex, the world’s great retail foreign exchange market disruptor, which was started by South African entrepreneurs. Mixed coins and notes are dumped into Fourex kiosks, and the machines use high-speed technology to identify, evaluate and exchange each and every coin or note, from more than 150 currencies.
“When Fourex wanted a banking system, we customised the look of the solution and rolled it out,” Baumhardt says. “Because we mass produce software, we can quickly customise it. If we solve a problem for one client by developing a new module on our cloud platform, we know we solve similar problems for multiple clients. Best of all, we operate on a subscription-based model, so our customers pay according to their revenues.”
It’s what he calls the assembly line principle. He says it makes sense to headquarter the company in South Africa because our developers are talented and more affordable.
“It’s also part of our job creation strategy to employ people locally and use their skills to develop software solutions for international companies. We are aiming to lift 1 000 people out of poverty over the next couple of years by teaching them to code. This country needs to develop its IP, and we are excited about playing our part in doing that.”