IT in Banking

Old Mutual's 22seven taps into crypto-currencies

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Bitcoin is currently the largest blockchain network, followed by Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and EOS.
Bitcoin is currently the largest blockchain network, followed by Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and EOS.

Old Mutual-owned money management app 22seven has updated its application to enable users to track more than 1 800 crypto-currencies in rands, claiming to be the first to offer such a service in SA.

This as South Africans' appetite for crypto-currencies grows. A recent survey by crypto-currency firm Luno revealed that SA, Indonesia and Malaysia reported higher levels of crypto-currency familiarity and ownership compared to their European counterparts.

In SA, 69% of respondents indicated they were familiar with crypto-currencies, while almost a third (29%) said they owned a crypto-currency. More than half of South African respondents indicated they are interested in buying a crypto-currency.

22seven aggregates data from its users' online banking profiles to create a "smart statement" with detailed categorisation of spending. It uses a mixture of gamification and behavioural science to change users' attitudes towards money.

The company now enables users to link their crypto-currency holdings, track and monitor the value of their coins in rands.

22seven was officially launched in January 2012, and caused a stir in the local banking sector.

Created by former 20twenty CEO and serial entrepreneur, Christo Davel, 22seven was acquired by long-term savings, protection and investment group, Old Mutual, in January 2013.

Devel called it quits from the company in 2017.

Jikku Joseph, MD of 22seven, says the popularity and growing interest in crypto-currencies made the update inevitable.

By market capitalisation, Bitcoin is currently the largest blockchain network, followed by Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and EOS.

"We're focused on enabling our users to see all their money in one place so they can make informed choices," says Joseph.

"Helping 22seven users to link their crypto-currency holdings is a major step toward this goal, especially as South Africans are increasingly exposed to crypto-currencies and are starting to warm up to the possibilities of the blockchain," he adds.

The 2018 Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor found that while the prevalence of crypto-currency investments was limited to a handful of respondents, 40% of metropolitan South Africans surveyed were aware of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. Awareness increased with income, peaking at 56% of households earning over R40 000.

Joseph says having a view of crypto-currencies in rands in relation to the rest of one's financial holdings would give users a more complete picture of their money.

"Of those aware of crypto-currencies, 70% believe you can make a large amount of money by investing in them, which makes it essential to have a clear view of the value and volatility of these currencies over time.

"22seven is using popular crypto-currency site CoinMarketCap to source the latest crypto-currency prices. Values will be updated eight times a day with the intention to increase the frequency based on usage."

Joseph concludes by cautioning that while investing is a personal choice, it's always a good idea to consult with a seasoned financial adviser when it comes to where investors put their money.

"Information is power and diversifying your portfolio is a wise choice. 22seven allows you to keep track of your diversified holdings across multiple asset classes and financial providers, all in one place. If you're unsure about your investment strategy, get proper financial advice."

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