wiGroup CEO and founder, Bevan Ducasse, with Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson.
Mobile software firm, and winner of the FNB Business INNOVATION Awards 2016, wiGroup, has announced its securing investment from two leading global companies to fast-track its entry into emerging and developed markets. Virgin Group and retail solutions leader Smollan purchased a stake in the business for an undisclosed sum. This follows similar investment from Investment manager Investec Asset Management in 2015.
wiGroup CEO, Bevan Ducasse, says the investment comes as the company is looking to accelerate its global expansion program. "Our presence in Europe and expansion into Australasia and emerging markets will be fast-tracked by leveraging both Virgin Group and Smollan's extensive global networks. As a business this brings us one step closer to realising our vision of simplifying and improving the way the world transacts."
Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world's most recognised and respected brands. It has grown successful businesses in a number of sectors including travel and leisure, music and entertainment, mobile and media, financial services, and health and wellness. Virgin also has investments in a number of sectors including over 35 technology-focused investments spanning consumer internet services, fintech and sharing economy sectors.
The investment from the Virgin Group follows a successful partnership with wiGroup on the creation of Virgin Money South Africa’s new peer-to-peer payment app, Virgin Money Spot, which launched in January 2018 and allows customers to send money to friends in a simple, safe and social way.
Josh Bayliss, Virgin Group CEO, says: “More and more people are using their phones to pay each other, pay for products or take advantage of loyalty offerings. wiGroup is an established player in this sector and has innovative solutions in place which will simplify and improve mobile transactions globally.”
Bayliss adds: “We are always on the lookout for innovative companies with an eye on making our customers’ lives easier; we’re delighted to be investing in wiGroup and we look forward to supporting them on the next stage of their business journey.”
Smollan is an international retail solutions provider operating in five continents and over 450 000 retail stores worldwide. CEO David Smollan says: "wiGroup has successfully pioneered mobile loyalty, rewards, and transacting services for some of the world's leading brands. Its understanding of mobile as a transactional tool is perfectly suited to brands operating in both developed markets as well as fast-paced emerging market environments. We look forward to a strong partnership with Bevan and his team."
Rapid growth bears fruit
wiGroup growth has been rapid since it was founded in 2007, with year-on-year growth over the last number of years consistently being over 45%, and a growing African market presence in countries including Namibia, Nigeria, Mauritius and Ghana.
In less than a decade, wiGroup has established itself as the largest mobile transactional platform in Africa with over 75 000 integrated till points accepting mobile payments, loyalty and rewards transactions. Through our software as a service, we’ve delivered mobile transacting solutions to leading international hospitality and retail brands who are looking to enable their customers to engage and transact via their mobile phones in a simpler and more rewarding way.
Global expansion underway; emerging market plans unchanged
Ducasse says the business has recently established in Amsterdam, London and Paris, and is looking to the Middle East and Australia as key growth markets over the short to medium term. "We hope to leverage our new partners’ extensive global footprints and explore opportunities to create shared value between our businesses. In addition, our strategic focus on Africa - which will be home to one fifth of the global consumer market by 2025 - remains in place, especially in light of the continent's high penetration and usage of mobile."
Smollan was founded in 1931 as a South African-based sales agency. Today, Smollan is a leading retail solutions company employing over 60 000 employees and associates in 24 markets across five continents. "Smollan's experience with directing all aspects of how a brand is managed at the point of purchase, and its extensive global footprint create natural synergies with our consumer-centric mobile transactional software and point-of-sale integrations. Smollan's presence in Southern and East Africa also aligns with our growing footprint in West Africa and Mauritius over the past few years," remarked Ducasse.
With more than 60 businesses serving 53 million customers in 35 countries, Virgin is one of the most recognisable brands in the world. Ducasse says "Virgin has a focus on working with innovative entrepreneurs to identify and commercialise new services and technologies; their purpose-driven approach to business is something which wiGroup is proud to join forces with.”
“Our business faces a world of exciting new opportunities just as we cross the ten-year mark. We look forward to working closely with our new partners over the coming months as we bring our vision to the world."
wiGroup's key clients include leading retail, banking, quick service chains, insurance and telecoms companies. Apart from being the FNB Business Innovator of the Year 2016, the company was also awarded the 2015 PwC Vision to Reality Award, and CEO Bevan Ducasse is an Endeavor Entrepreneur.
For more information on wiGroup, visit www.wigroupinternational.com