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Digital banking services and apps are a growth area for SA banks. Picture 123RF/MIKOS
Digital banking services and apps are a growth area for SA banks. Picture 123RF/MIKOS

Naspers’s SA-focused venture capital unit has announced its second investment in a month with the backing of fintech start-up LifeCheq, further strengthening its portfolio in this segment.

The company’s Foundry unit led a $3.3m (R53m) series A funding round in the financial advisory company, investing R40m, with the balance coming from existing investors. 

Launched in 2019, Naspers Foundry is a R1.4bn SA-focused fund that invests in early-stage tech companies.

LifeCheq, which was started in 2018, uses technology to lower the cost of financial advice which was previously accessible only to high-income earners. The platform uses artificial intelligence to help financial advisers combine different sets of personal finance data to set and track customers’ financial goals.

Abu Addae, co-founder and CEO of LifeCheq, said: “Existing solutions for quality financial advice practically ignore more than 2-billion mass affluent clients globally, simply because they’re not wealthy enough. Our mission is to fix that.”

LifeCheq hjas assisted more than 45,000 users in SA with access to financial advice and planning. The funds raised will be allocated to “new technology and capabilities to significantly scale LifeCheq’s platform, accelerate its partner experience, and grow its customer base”, the company said.

The announcement marks Foundry’s fifth fintech investment and its 11th since inception. Earlier this month it ploughed R40m into Nile, an agriculture start-up that connects farmers to buyers of fresh produce.

In 2019, it backed Aisha Pandor’s online home-cleaning services business SweepSouth with R30m, and in August announced its biggest investment, R120m, in online insurance company Naked Insurance.

Naspers has until recently focused mainly on food delivery, fintech and classifieds, but is now investing more in education, driven by increased online demand in the wake of Covid-19.

Fabian Whate, head of Naspers Foundry, said LifeCheq builds on the venture unit's growing fintech portfolio, which includes Ctrl, Naked Insurance, Planet42, and Floatpays.

The group's international unit Prosus — which has big investments in companies such as China’s Tencent, Brazil’s iFood and Germany’s Delivery Hero — entered the edtech market in 2016. The group’s main units in that segment include Brainly, Codecademy, Eruditus, SoloLearn and Udemy.

In February, Foundry backed Floatpays, which provides customers with real-time access to a portion of their “earned but not yet paid” income during the month, with a R15.15m investment. 

gavazam@businesslive.co.za

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