Local virtual banking platform shines at TechCrunch Africa

Read time 2min 20sec
Bettr founders Tobie van Zyl (CEO) and Andrzej Stempowski (CTO).
Bettr founders Tobie van Zyl (CEO) and Andrzej Stempowski (CTO).

SA fintech start-up Bettr was named the runner-up at the African edition of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield, held in Lagos this week.

Bettr is a Cape Town-based virtual banking platform founded by entrepreneurs Tobie van Zyl (CEO) and Andrzej Stempowski (CTO).

The platform, founded under the mother company, Bettr Finance, was one of 15 start-ups to pitch at Africa's edition of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield, competing for the $25 000 equity-free grand prize. Other prizes include a trip for two to TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019, and the coveted title of "Africa's favourite Startup".

The grand prize was scooped by M-SCAN, a Ugandan-based tech start-up that develops low-cost PC, tablet and mobile compatible ultrasound devices for the healthcare sector.

As the runner-up, Bettr was named Africa's second most promising start-up.

"Being ranked among the top 15 start-ups on the continent is a great achievement for us. Coming in second is an absolute honour when you're competing at this level of innovation," explains Stempowski.

The Lagos edition was the second TechCrunch Startup Battlefield to take place in sub-Saharan Africa, after the success of the 2017 event in Nairobi, Kenya.

The organisers reviewed hundreds of African start-ups to arrive at a list of 15 semi-finalists.

Each company was given six minutes to pitch and share a live demo to a sold-out venue and panel of judges.

Targeting the unbanked

Currently in private alpha testing, Bettr is set to officially launch in 2019. The platform offers users access to a financial graph that connects them to a variety of financial products and services, such as car or home purchases, or insurance.

The founders promise to give SA's unbanked population access to financial empowerment, by providing alternative banking services for everyday transactional services through its mobile app and a debit card.

"Our goal is to connect Africans (through the South African gateway) to the financial graph to afford them the opportunity to get onto the financial ladder. Out of South Africa's population of 56 million, 70% have bank accounts, but among that, 50% are underserved.

"Added to this is the fact that nine million of South Africa's young people are unemployed; 50% of credit active consumers are over indebted; while 5 million are credit-invisible. Graduates are plagued with student debt, and can't afford costly financial services."

Bettr offers free services, premised on an open financial network where users' transactions shape their unique financial DNA, creating customised profiles of each user.

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