Cape Town - The launch of Sanlam Fintech – a business cluster within the Sanlam Group – signals a strategic move to expand the Group's existing fintech offering and ensure that all aspects of the US$8-billion (R143-billion) listed company's services are digitally-led. The overarching goal is to use tech to accelerate access to financial services for all Africans, delivering on the brand's purpose: to help Africans live with financial confidence.
Gathered under the Sanlam Fintech cluster is a host of existing product houses that Sanlam – Africa's largest non-banking financial services group – believes will be key for its digital, direct growth ambitions. These include: Sanlam Rewards (Wealth Bonus, Sanlam Reality), SatrixNow, MiWay Blink, Santam Switch, Home+ , EasyEquities, Sanlam Credit Solutions and Sanlam Multi Data.
"At the heart of Sanlam Fintech is the convergence of a single ecosystem that incorporates financial guidance, rewards, non-intermediated product offerings and seamless payment capabilities to deliver the integrated digital experience that today's client expects," explains Riaan van Dyk, Sanlam Fintech's CEO. "We are building a single view of customer that will allow us to serve hyperpersonalised interactions at scale, ensuring that our clients get a holistic experience tailored to their needs, regardless of the Sanlam Group product(s) they hold.
"The Fintech cluster will support Sanlam's key strategic priorities of financial inclusion and digital transformation. It is about enabling us to serve a segment of the market that has historically been underserved by Sanlam," adds van Dyk. "We are committed to building a digital-first business while ensuring our entire Group is future-ready."
Sanlam Fintech's ambition to be one of the most exciting fintech players globally is audacious – and demands best-in-class talent. It's why van Dyk has moved quickly to make a swathe of impressive appointments to the Sanlam Fintech Exco, including some of the best executives from global fintech companies. These include FNB eBucks Rewards' CEO Johan Moolman, Amazon's Atle Jorgensen, and Spotify's Rishi Kumar.
Johan Moolman – the highly awarded CEO of FNB eBucks Rewards – will join Sanlam Fintech in October to lead Sanlam Rewards & Loyalty, which includes its flagship Wealth Bonus rewards programme, as well as Sanlam Reality, the lifestyle rewards programme of the Sanlam Group. "Johan is a real coup for Sanlam," says van Dyk. "We are serious about rewarding our clients and building a loyalty ecosystem that will be one of the best on the continent, and Johan is unparalleled in his experience and track record in this regard."
In addition, Atle Jorgensen, who spent 10 years as a senior software engineer at Amazon, joined Sanlam Fintech as Chief Technology Officer in August. Spotify's Rishi Kumar joined Fintech to lead its data capability in early September. The appointments signal the clear intention of Sanlam Fintech, as well as van Dyk's belief that attracting top global talent in the fintech space is key to the cluster's success. "The hunt goes on to build a leading global fintech company in South Africa to serve Africa," adds van Dyk, who confirms that Sanlam Fintech is still looking to add top tech talent in the form of engineers, product owners and developers.
More broadly, van Dyk – a former Group CEO of Assupol with over 25 years' experience in the financial services sector – believes that Sanlam Fintech will be key in helping Sanlam Group democratise its offering to a wider audience. "We have carefully listened to the needs of the market and are responding in a way that positions us to serve both today's clients and those of the future," he explains. "Our vision for Sanlam Fintech is to be the best, most cost-effective means of offering trusted financial guidance and solutions at scale. We see this as our greatest chance to democratise financial literacy and pave the way for more people to achieve financial confidence and prosperity."
He highlighted Sanlam's investment in EasyEquities – and partnership of Satrix with EasyEquities to create SatrixNow – as an example of ground already gained in making investments more widely accessible, democratising investment opportunities for all South Africans.
Sanlam also has ambitious plans to invest in new value propositions to drive future growth. It has established an 'entrepreneurial' team within Sanlam Fintech which will focus on building new tools, products and capabilities. Currently, this includes fast-tracking AI development and deployment to enhance existing product experiences and sales processes. "Our approach is agile, centered around experimentation, and entirely driven by client needs. This includes adopting an iterative way of working, releasing innovations through soft launches as part of a phased-project approach," says van Dyk. "We want to learn quickly from these experiments without imposing products on clients unwillingly.
"We firmly believe that our Fintech cluster will drive our transformation agenda through financial literacy, advice, and radical inclusion," concludes van Dyk. "We are excited about the opportunity to make a difference. At Sanlam, we acknowledge that building something new can be challenging, requiring patience and perseverance. However, we're eager to embrace rapid innovation cycles and the uncertainties that come with it. We are poised to shape the future of fintech and make a meaningful impact on people's lives."