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Standard Bank, Silicon Cape deal targets South Africa's fintech start-ups

The ecosystem enabler has so far developed initiatives that help minority group-led start-ups to become an active part of the tech sector in SA.

Non-profit organisation Silicon Cape Initiative has partnered with big-four bank Standard Bank to help support South Africa’s tech start-up ecosystem and develop innovative solutions for the financial services industry.

Silicon Cape is a Western Cape-based digital initiative that connects tech entrepreneurs, developers and creatives with angel investors and venture capitalists.

The ecosystem enabler has developed initiatives that help minority group-led start-ups to become an active part of the tech sector in SA.

The partnership will see Silicon Cape connecting Standard Bank with key players within the tech start-up space to help the group improve its customer experiences and solutions with emerging technologies.

Sumarie Roodt, Silicon Cape Chairperson

In addition, start-ups in the ecosystem will benefit from exposure to a major corporate like Standard Bank.

Naomi Snyman, Standard Bank’s emerging technology innovation lead, says the financial institution realises that in the new future, banks will no longer be the sole providers of financial services.

“We know that to compete in this new world, and to really add value to our customers, we need to collaborate with smaller fintech companies that have laser-like focus on specific customer experiences or solutions.

“Why we specifically joined Silicon Cape is that within the innovation ecosystem in SA, Cape Town is the central point where all these wonderful ideas and where all the best skills are based. We know that if we really want to make a meaningful difference in not only supporting smaller entrepreneurs, but also in supporting innovation culture and the ecosystem within South Africa, the only true partnership can be with Silicon Cape.”

Standard Bank says it has already tapped into the Silicon Cape community to gain deeper insights into emerging technologies that are changing the world, including blockchain, artificial intelligence, extended reality, quantum computing, genome sequencing and central banking.

The partnership will further allow the big-four bank’s customers to tap into these technologies and learn as much as they can about digital trends and new solutions from within the Silicon Cape community.

“Through that, we wish to learn about consumers from a different perspective. We often look at consumers from a very narrow-minded banking approach so we also want to broaden our perspective, our frame of reference, and to get close to our customers through new partnerships. We’re open for collaboration, and we’re open for business,” says Snyman.

Through its financial support, Standard Bank is enabling Silicon Cape to fulfil its mandate of connecting stakeholders, curating ecosystem data, amplifying the stories coming out of the ecosystem and advocating on behalf of stakeholders, according to Silicon Cape.

Silicon Cape chairperson Dr Sumarie Roodt points out that with an already existing partnership with industry leaders and organisations that help impart fintech tech innovation and knowledge in the sector, Silicon Cape is seen as a pan-African unifier of innovation efforts across the continent.

“Our partnership with Standard Bank highlights how carefully selected and structured alliances can positively impact local economic ecosystems, particularly as it will enable key value exchanges to take place between the Silicon Cape community and Standard Bank’s employees and customers. It should be used as an example to inspire a growing number of similar collective impact collaborations," notes Roodt.