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Old Mutual brings 22seven in-house, founders leave
Old Mutual made headlines back in 2013 when it acquired personal finance app 22seven for an undisclosed sum.
At the time of the deal, both companies said that 22seven would be absorbed into Old Mutual’s plans to deliver digital support for customers.
Now, the parent company has announced that it will be “bringing its wholly-owned 22seven operation closer to its in-house digital strategy without interrupting the current online offering to customers”.
However, the move will also see co-founders Christo Davel and Kenny Inggs departing the business.
In a press release to Ventureburn, Raymond Berelowitz, Director of Customer Solutions at Old Mutual, elaborated on the news.
“We are very proud of the capability we have built with 22seven and we strongly believe that the Personal Financial Management (PFM) component — which is the tool that helps customers manage their money — has the power to help many South Africans achieve their financial goals in life. As such, we are excited about the potential for integrating the 22seven service into our larger digital offering without any changes for customers.”
The executive also sought to reassure customers that they would honour the data integrity policy behind 22seven.
“Looking at the year ahead, we will focus on making the existing service the best it can be and, importantly, available to more South Africans.”
Old Mutual said that Davel and Inggs would be leaving “as a result of the new direction”.
“We’d like to thank them for their contribution and the valuable role they’ve played in building 22seven into a value-adding service for customers. We look forward to continue[sic] working with the team to broaden the digital service and bring it closer to Old Mutual,” Berelowitz was quoted as saying.
Davel’s message to customers
In an email sent to 22seven customers, Davel explained the situation.
“Since Old Mutual bought 22seven almost four years ago, we have continued to run independently, with our own separate offices and staff. The support and independence they gave us enabled us do what we originally set out to — to help people do better with their money,” he wrote.
“Old Mutual has decided to bring 22seven strategically closer to home, in terms of their digital business. They have some extremely capable people working on their future digital plans, which means that I, my co-founder Kenny Inggs and some of our staff won’t be part of 22seven’s future.”
The co-founder also took the opportunity to assure users that there would be no changes to the technology, support and data security/privacy standards.
“On a personal note, I want to say how much I appreciate you giving 22seven a shot. Building it has been one of the most extraordinary and fulfilling experiences of my life. It wouldn’t have been possible without your support.”
The news also comes after sources familiar with 22seven’s affairs told Ventureburn in 2016 that the service was rumoured to be looking for a buyer. Of course, it doesn’t appear as if they’ve found one.
22seven attracted a ton of attention after launching in 2012, allowing users to link their bank accounts to the service in order to get a better view of their finances.
However, the app also drew criticism from the banks in question, with FNB, Nedbank and Absa initially cautioning users about the service.
Featured image: 22seven