Reflecting on a year of AlphaCode

Published on October 28th, 2016

It’s incredible to say that AlphaCode has broken the thousand-member mark in just over a year of existence. We couldn’t be prouder of our AlphaCode members who cover the entire sphere of fintech disciplines, from lending and payments to blockchain and investing. Despite sometimes challenging economic conditions, our members have thrived and grown, changing the face of fintech in Africa.

As we look back on the first year of our club, there are so many things to celebrate and acknowledge as our members have won awards, launched new products, forged new partnerships and spread their wings.

The year has also seen AlphaCode members attract attention from the traditional industry.

One of our early members, StockShop provides a free guide to the stock market teaching individuals how to trade and invest, and is now doing a proof of concept with the FNB Innovation team. And while we cannot yet go into all the exciting details, this deal is indicative of the growth opportunities that exist for the group.

Another of our members, Bankymoon has started consulting to the SA Reserve Bank on blockchain technology. Bankymoon focuses on providing blockchain solutions to the financial services industry and has its own wallet and payment products.

“I joined AlphaCode on 15 October last year,” says Lorien Gamaroff, founder of Bankymoon.

“Entrepreneurship was new to me and I was apprehensive about taking such a big step into the unknown. My journey as a startup CEO has been a wonderful experience thanks to the incredible support from the AlphaCode Club team. I feel privileged to be a part of such a fantastic initiative and I owe much of my success to everyone at AlphaCode. I am grateful for everything AlphaCode has done for me and feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the family.”

Mentorship and support are two essentials that AlphaCode is passionate about providing to members.

“The entrepreneurial journey can be an isolated and lonely place but not with AlphaCode on your side. AlphaCode has assisted us to network with some of the thought leaders in the African fintech space and we have found huge value in the ecosystem and co-working space,” says Oliver Bekker, co-founder of SASA Solutions, a digital fintech company that is driving financial inclusion.

Leveraging the power of collaboration has resulted in Isazi Consulting, a company which looks at machine learning and optimisation, landing a big deal with one of the AlphaCode Club portfolio companies in Australia. 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 have secured a further R1.9 million in license fees from the data visualisation tool they built.

Meanwhile, iKhokha partnered with Mastercard to roll out 700 innovative new point-of-sale devices, and Mama Money and Peach Payments have been partnering with traditional players to bring down the cost of remittances on the continent.

Our members have also been scooping up rewards, such as the FNB business innovation award to Bevan Ducasse, founder of wiGroup, and Ikhokha walked away with the MTN Enterprise App of the Year for its point-of-sale solution that enables small business owners to accept debit and credit card transactions via a chip and PIN card when plugged into a smartphone.

Additionally, 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, with My Hello Nation coming second in the competition.

The year also saw Livestock Wealth’s Ntuthuko Shezi being recognised as one of Venture Burn’s top entrepreneurs under 40.

Events were a big part of the AlphaCode calendar this year, and most recently we celebrated our first birthday at our home on Fredman drive, with Merchant Capital CEO Dov Girnun sharing some of his experiences as AlphaCode’s first Diamond member and investment. The evening also saw performances from the Muses and a keynote address from eco-adventurer Patricia Glyn.

AlphaCode recently hosted a high-speed pitch event in October that saw R5 million awarded to BEE fintech startups by Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng.

From events for blockchain beginners to conferences that cover the whole industry, the AlphaCode space has been a bustling hub for fintech events in Africa and we look forward to many more.

We’ve also seen many new businesses launch with AlphaCode onboard from day one, including some that came to be as a result of encounters at the club.

Michael Bowren, co-founder of Fincheck, a user-friendly online portal that provides independent and unbiased facts and figures about similar financial products on offer from different financial services institutions, says that AlphaCode was instrumental in the launch of his company.

“AlphaCode has provided a great boost and platform to launch off. It offers young companies a large networking web into the fintech world. Our experience and participation thus far have allowed us to meet new and innovative companies and people. This has led us into some insightful conversations that benefit the business. AlphaCode places emphasis on areas of most importance for young companies,” says Bowren.

This sense of community is one of our strongest offerings, enabling fintech start-ups to benefit from the power of networking with like-minded individuals and organisations.

“Being part of the AlphaCode has been an absolute godsend for our business. Many other service providers and technologies we now use on our platform were sourced through the broader AlphaCode network. We are very grateful for the invitation to become members and we and look forward to meeting, engaging, and pursuing opportunities with the broader AlphaCode group,” says Tsepo Headbush, co-founder of Bright On Capital, a peer-to-peer online enterprise-lending platform.

This is a sentiment echoed by Thabo Mongoma, co-founder of Imafin, a specialist payment and commercial credit firm driven by innovation on traditional payment models.

“We joined the AlphaCode club a few months ago looking to carve out relationships in the fintech industry. In less than four months, we have built a sizeable network of potential partners and have exchanged ideas with like-minded entrepreneurs. There is no price tag we can put on the value of these networks. Through AlphaCode, we have also received funding from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch,” he says.

Speaking of relationships, AlphaCode club also partnered with Envestnet Yodlee to make the company’s range of tools and services available to our members, and we joined the Global Fintech Hubs Federation to unlock a worldwide network of fintech thought leaders and potential partners.

These were just some of too many highlights to mention since our launch in September 2015. It has been an incredible year and one that was packed with excitement and business opportunities for our members. It has already been a wonderful journey, and we look forward to more exciting times to come.