Patrice Motsepe’s TymeBank set for unicorn status

Patrice Motsepe

Tyme Group, a digital lender controlled by South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, could raise as much as $100 million in funding this year, propelling it into unicorn status.

The bank, which started almost five years ago, is valued at $965 million (R18.2 billion), CEO Coen Jonker said in an interview. “We believe that it is very likely that we cross the $1 billion (R18.9 billion) mark if we meet the $100 million funding target,” he said.

Tyme will spend some of the fresh funding during the second quarter on entry into Vietnam — a fast-growing $470 billion economy with a young population and relatively low unemployment, he said.

Majority-owned by Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital, Tyme operates in South Africa, where it has racked up more than 8.5 million customers in five years.

It’s also in the Philippines as a joint venture with the local Gokongwei Group and has netted 2.3 million users. The lender is adding 1 million clients a month across the two markets, Jonker said.

“We will be launching additional functionality, improving our virtual-card proposition, expanding our personal lending proposition with a view to becoming more attractive to wealthier customers,” Jonker said.

“This is an important part of our progression to becoming a top-three bank.”