SC Ventures, Standard Chartered’s innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm, and NEXT176, the venture building and investment arm of Old Mutual, a Pan-African financial services group, have joined forces to launch an inclusive financial wellness platform.

With a shared vision to address financial inclusion, and improve access to budgeting and financial planning tools, this strategic partnership will merge two ventures: SC Ventures-backed Autumn, a financial goals and wealth planning app that was incubated in Singapore; and NEXT176-backed 22seven, a budget aggregation and tracking app based in South Africa, SC Ventures said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the statement, this inclusive wealth management platform will aim to bring simple, affordable, artificial intelligence (AI)-led and Shariah-compliant wealth management solutions to users in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Middle East are emerging as one of the leading destinations for wealth management globally — whether it’s high net worth income population, Millennials, or Gen Z — there is demand for technologically advanced and highly-customized wealth management tools supported by ongoing financial education,” said Benito Mable, Venture and Strategic Partnerships Lead based in the UAE, SC Ventures.

“The assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East rose 16 percent to $1.2 trillion in 2022, according to BCG,

“The region is expected to grow further and remain the fourth-largest wealth hub in the world making UAE a perfect market for our base,” he added.

Soon to be headquartered in the UAE, the Middle East’s financial hub, this innovative wealth management platform, is expected to provide access to advanced budgeting, savings, and investment solutions for users in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia regions, creating a long-lasting positive impact for the future generations.

“At SC Ventures, we believe strongly in improving access to financial services through a combination of literacy and digital-first platforms,

“This partnership is a strong example and will contribute to rewiring the DNA in Banking and financial services in our communities,” said Alex Manson, who leads SC Ventures.

“In NEXT176, we found a strategic partner with a shared vision to democratize wealth management,

“We are looking forward to an impactful venture that will help its clients take ownership of their financial future,” he added.

The merger, subject to required approvals, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024 and create a holistic financial wellness platform aimed at democratizing wealth management.

Cited the Africa Wealth report 2023 published by Henley & Partners, the statement estimated $2.4 trillion of investable wealth is held on the African continent.

It noted that wealth management remains generally exclusive to high-net-worth individuals with at least $1 million in liquid assets, who can access private banks and advisor networks.

It also said the average individual lacks access to tools and products to plan, grow and protect their wealth.

“This is a significant milestone for 22seven and aligns with NEXT176’s aspiration of positively impacting a billion lives with a product that gives impactful insights into their financial lives across our key geographies on the African continent, and extending to Southeast Asia and the Middle East,” said Vuyo Mpako, Managing Director, NEXT176.

“We believe that this merger will further enhance collaboration opportunities between SCV and NEXT176,” he added.

SC Ventures is a business unit that provides a platform and catalyst for Standard Chartered to promote innovation, invest in disruptive financial technology and explore alternative business models.

Backed by Old Mutual, NEXT176 was founded to create significant impact in specific ecosystems that affect the future of emerging economies, by creating businesses that deliver disruptive and sustainable growth.

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