ADDaBIT is a simple social saving platform for SA

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South African startup ADDaBIT is pioneering the idea of social savings in the country, allowing users to create funds on the platform and enlist the help of friends and family in saving towards their goal.

Launched in 2014, ADDaBIT is a transparent tool that allows users to their funds via social media, email or SMS to raise money for certain causes or goals.

Essentially a crowdfunding tool for social circles, allowing people to save money for immediate purchases of long-term ambitions, such as sending a child to university one day.

The startup has also signed a key deal with South African financial services firm Sanlam that allows users to invest in trusts with no minimum monthly contributions and no lump sum deposits required. It means everyone has access to the same money market unit trust investment, with as little as ZAR1 invested earning 7.5 per cent net interest.

“This is untouchable in the local market,” ADDaBIT chief executive officer (CEO) Michael Griffin told Disrupt Africa. “Think about how many really poor people out there can now earn three times more interest on their hard-earned savings than all of the traditional banks are currently giving them.”

Whereas other crowdfunding solutions in the market are technically deposit taking and therefore require a banking licence, ADDaBIT is essentially crowdfunding investments with Sanlam.

“This is ideal for schools fundraising and we are about to embark on a rollout for 580 schools across South Africa. We also have smaller play schools using ADDaBIT to track school fees paid for each child, while enabling the mums and dads to easily share their child’s ADDaBIT school fee fund for financial assistance in times of cash flow difficulties,” Griffin said.

This is all done free of charge on ADDaBIT, which makes money by sharing management fees with Sanlam as well as from other revenue streams. Saving people money is key to the startup’s progression.

“Children’s bank accounts generally attract monthly fees and when you are a little person with very little money going into your bank account, having a money drain on your bank balance due to monthly fees is really not a great feeling,” Griffin said.

“Because we underpin your ADDaBIT funds with a Sanlam investment you do not have a monthly fee and the growth allocated to your ADDaBIT fund is net of competitively low costs associated with your investment.”

He said he believes the platform can play a huge role in the retail sector, by super-sizing the traditional lay-by and wishlist functionality.

“We have built a Shopify widget for retailers to enable simple social saving towards a product or service,” said Griffin.

“I’m also very excited about our virtual currency offering which we are in the process of rolling out for one of South Africa’s well known insurance brands. They will use our platform with their own branded “currency” to drive behavioural change in their customer base with a rewards programme.”

All of this has come about after ADDaBIT secured funding from the Futurum Financial Group last year. Griffin said the startup is now very close to being cash flow positive on a monthly basis.

For now the company is only focused on South Africa as it looks to demonstrate proper traction and ensure the Sanlam integration is a success, but Griffin said ADDaBIT does have international ambitions.

“We have registered an entity in the United States (US) and look forward to gaining traction across America during the second half of this year. Our intention is to roll out in English speaking territories while we work on the language conversion for the larger non-English speaking demographics,” he said.

He said he could write a book on the challenges the company has faced in getting off the ground, not least in dealing with what he calls “the most unscrupulous banking executives”, who attempt to reproduce components of what ADDaBIT does.

“Some of them even write to you about putting an MoU in place in the next couple of days and then you never hear from them again. But this is part of the challenge and we thrive on rising to the occasion,” Griffin said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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