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All posts by AlphaCode

AlphaCode, launched in September 2015, is the fintech investment arm of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings with the mandate to invest into a diversified portfolio of superior entrepreneur led, early-stage fintech focused businesses that have achieved some market traction and are poised for rapid growth. AlphaCode offers a state-of- the-art shared workspace designed as a clubhouse which members can use for hot desking, meetings and engaging with other members. The space is also designed to host frequent events such as fireside chats with leading entrepreneurs, dialogue sessions, networking functions and pitch evenings. Investments to date incluce Merchant Capital and Entersekt.
  • Goodbye to online crooks: SA fintech startup keeps money safe till buyers and sellers both agree

    As online fraud in South Africa escalates, buying and selling goods using online platforms places both buyers and sellers at risk. After Jethro O’Brien, CEO and co-founder of TradeSafe.co.za, was duped while trying to buy car parts that had been advertised online, his idea for TradeSafe was born. TradeSafe is a licensed, independent fintech company that safeguards a buyer's funds in trust (escrow) until the seller delivers what was promised. Only once the buyer is happy with the goods or services received, does TradeSafe release the funds. Explains O’Brien, “We act as a buffer between a buyer and a seller. The...

  • South African fintech in 2018 – what can we expect? [Opinion]

    Fintech continues to surprise with little to touch the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in 2017.  This will continue in 2018 and I make some predictions based on what we see happening globally and what we see taking place with our members at AlphaCode, a Rand Merchant Investments club for fintech startup entrepreneurs. Bitcoin At the end of 2016 I predicted that 2017 was going to be the year that the world would embrace bitcoin. I thought it would go mainstream but I had no idea how mainstream it would become. We have seen the bitcoin price increase from $1000 at the beginning...

  • Four black-owned fintech startups each win R1m at Alphacode pitching event

    Four black-owned South African financial services startups each won R1-million last night at a pitching event hosted by AlphaCode. The event was held on 31 October and was run for the third time in collaboration with AlphaCode, a club for next generation financial services entrepreneurs powered by RMI Holdings. The Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) pitching event is an initiative of Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings which seeks to identify and reward high potential South African fintech entrepreneurs to boost the development of fintech in South Africa. Monetary awards were made to four of the 10 black-owned financial services businesses which pitched. The four businesses, as recipients of the grant funding, will become members...

  • Slide app, SA’s own version of Venmo, aims to boost person-to-person payments

    South Africa has just got its own version of Venmo, one of the US’s most successful payment platforms owned by PayPal that processes $25-billion in person-to-person payments annually. The Slide app is founded by three young South Africans who recently returned from living in the US -- Irshad Kathrada, Terence Goldberg and Alon Stern. The three have developed the app to change the way South Africans pay each other. Kathrada, worked for JP Morgan in Johannesburg, London and New York; Terence Goldberg, worked in Toronto and San Francisco; and Alon Stern moved to the US from South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship where he worked at...

  • Mama Money makes FICA simple: take a photo and a selfie

    The South African-based fintech startup that offers the cheapest cross border money transfer rates into key African countries and now into India, has introduced the easiest online registration process using its app – taking a photo and a selfie. This is a first in South Africa and is approved by the Financial Intelligence Centre and the SA Reserve Bank. Mama Money co-founder, Raphael Grojnowski (pictured above, right), explains: “To register, you simply download the Mama Money Family App from the Google Play store, enter you contact details, take a photo of your passport or ID and a selfie holding the document. This is...

  • FinChatBot to improve customer service, reduce costs for financial services

    If you’ve had enough of being put on hold, speaking to call centres in India or waiting for that promised call back on your query from people who never call back, you are probably ready for a chatbot. Chatbots have arrived in South Africa and are kicking off in financial services. Chatbots are life like text based online conversations to connect businesses with their customers. These conversations are possible on websites, Facebook messenger or on apps. They are intelligent conversations made possible through artificial intelligence and machine learning. If you think spending 45 minutes on the phone is absurd to take...

  • AlphaCode makes fourth investment, in Luno an international bitcoin platform

    South African bitcoin trading platform Luno today (19 September 2017) announced its expansion into 35 new markets across Europe, and the conclusion of a R120-million Series B funding round, led by London-based Balderton Capital, one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms. Rand Merchant Investments, through its fintech investment arm, AlphaCode, and existing investors Digital Currency Group also participated in the round. This follows Luno’s R60m Series A round, which was led by emerging market tech giant Naspers. To date, AlphaCode has invested in Prodigy Finance (August 2017), Entersekt (June 2017) and Merchant Capital (June 2016). Luno is one of the world’s most popular Bitcoin platforms, making it easy for people to buy, sell and learn about digital...

  • SA founder of Fintech platform Prodigy Finance announces over R3bn fundraise

    International fintech platform Prodigy Finance, which has developed the world’s first borderless credit model, today (21 August 2017) announced a R3.19-billion fundraise. The amount includes a R532-million Series-C equity round led by venture capital firm Index Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and AlphaCode; and a R2.66-billion debt facility led by a global investment bank. The company, which has 126 staff across offices in London, Cape Town, and New York, offers loans to postgraduate students accepted into business, engineering, law and public policy degrees at the world’s top universities, such as Harvard, Oxford, INSEAD and the University of Cape Town. Since it was established in 2007, the company has provided more...

  • Tremendous innovation in sophisticated fintech payments in South Africa

    In 2016 $5.5-billion of venture capital investment went into payments startups. This represented 22% of global fintech investment activity. In South Africa, payments still dominate the fintech landscape. At AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs, we are seeing a tremendous amount of innovation in payments as SA consumers seek new ways to transact. Due to SA’s sophisticated banking infrastructure, we possess strong skills in this sector and many AlphaCode entrepreneurs are finding better and more efficient ways to transact. Here below are some of the really innovative startups operating in the payments space that fulfil specific customer needs. Including the informal economy Due to...