SC Ventures partners with NEXT176 to ‘rewire’ banking DNA

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SC Ventures, the innovation and fintech investment division of Standard Chartered, has partnered with NEXT176 to launch an inclusive financial wellness platform.

This inclusive wealth management platform aims to deliver straightforward, cost-effective, AI-driven, and Shariah-compliant wealth management solutions to users across the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

Driven by a mutual commitment to enhance financial inclusion and expand access to budgeting and financial planning resources, this strategic alliance will unite two ventures: Autumn, a financial goals and wealth planning app supported by SC Ventures and 22seven, a budget aggregation and tracking app backed by NEXT176.

Vuyo Mpako, Managing Director at NEXT176, stated: “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. 

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

Set to be headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the financial epicentre of the Middle East, this wealth management platform is set to offer advanced budgeting, savings, and investment solutions to users across the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia regions.

Alex Manson, Head of SC Ventures, said: “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. 

“In NEXT176, we found a strategic partner with a shared vision to democratise wealth management. We are looking forward to an impactful venture that will help its clients take ownership of their financial future.”

Pending necessary approvals, the merger is anticipated to close in the second quarter of 2024, which is when the comprehensive financial wellness platform will launch.

The MENA region has become a target for many payment firms over the past few years, such as Paytabs who partnered with Fintech Galaxy in January accelerate Open Banking in the region.

Benito Mable, Venture and Strategic Partnerships Lead at SC Ventures, commented: “The 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-customised wealth management tools supported by ongoing financial education.

“The assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East rose 16% to US$1.2trn 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.”