As fintech specialist, e4, celebrates 20 years as a leading digital transformation specialist, Chief Executive Officer, Grant Phillips, says that the measure of success for most businesses is no longer about a 10 year vision, but rather what can be achieved within much shorter timeframes, a direct result of rapid digital and economic transformation. Speaking of the company’s birthday milestone, Phillips said that while e4 has firmly established itself as a leading fintech partner in South Africa, the next 36 months will be definitive in the organisation’s journey as it looks to embed its more diversified strategic roadmap.
“We believe that our broadened value proposition, servicing a diversifying client base, are the fundamental enabling blocks we have built to drive the next chapter of e4’s compelling growth story. Living up to our philosophy around the importance of digital enablement, we continue to focus on client satisfaction as opposed to market disruption. We prefer to build solutions that enable us to genuinely partner with our clients, solving complex yet fluid challenges that inevitably arise in this fast-developing digital landscape,” says Phillips.
As one of the pioneers of digitalisation, e4 successfully linked a home loan division within a leading bank to its conveyancing attorney at the start of 2000. Nik Steffny, e4’s Chief Commercial Officer, says that the platform created was quickly replicated for other players within the sector: “We used this experience to create complimentary products and solutions, offering what we know to be one of the first fintech plays in South Africa.”
He says the company has used this experience to build on and create a solid foundation as a leading digital transformation specialist. In 2006, e4 recognised the potential of the internet and developed its first web-based platform: “Believing that web-based, integrated solutions would dominate client requirements, we delivered what was then several industry firsts such as electronic signatures, digital documents, accurate online process tracking and management tools and developed what would later be described as business intelligence tools.”
e4 has since proven itself as a leading fintech partner within niche verticals such as financial services and recently launched a Proptech division to continue to innovate and service this vital sector: “Our work with all the leading financial institutions remains key to what we do and who we are as an organisation. We view these institutions as partners, not clients, with whom we’ve developed a 20-year strategic partnership. We look forward to working together with our partners to further develop the use of technology to solve locally relevant real-world problems.”
With a firm grasp of the current and potential role of technology, e4 recognised the value of not only its technology, but also its approach and understanding of digital transformation. The company has successfully diversified, using and repurposing its early-stage technology to develop solutions that address different industries and adjacent geographies.
“We see many of the core capabilities developed nearly 20 years ago still adding value in our client’s businesses today. As we execute on the next phase of our journey, we remain confident that our next generation solution stacks, launched over the past 18 months, make absolute market sense. COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to stress-test our strategic approach, assumptions and tactical execution disciplines, an opportunity we otherwise would not have had. It has reaffirmed that our strategic direction is sound, and that we are on the right path to ensure continued value creation for our clients and shareholders,” says Phillips.
Aside from its flagship Proptech business, e4 continues to invest in several other innovative fintech areas, including platforms, data analytics and Regtech: “We have seen significant potential in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and broader Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption and we are investing quite heavily in these capabilities,” says Steffny.
Phillips says that e4 will also continue to build on its data-centric business, while also investing into its digital platform sectors too: “While we acknowledge that the next 24 to 36 months will be challenging for the industry and country at large, we are confident that our journey, and where it has led us, allows us to expose our broadened solution stack to an ever increasing yet diversifying audience. This naturally de-risks some of the macro-economic headwinds we are all already feeling across the economy.”
He says that e4 has the wealth of two decades of experience and a plethora of lessons in software development and value creation. Having weathered the storms of previous financial turmoil, the business continues to draw on these learnings as it once again positions itself in new growth verticals and continues to expand its core capability offerings.
“e4 is the most popular opening move in chess. It has many strengths and immediately stakes a claim in the centre. I believe that our group has done just that, firmly entrenching its position at the centre of numerous transactional ecosystems and in doing so, given itself permission to enhance value creation across a much broader spectrum for many years to come,” says Phillips.