Nigerian online savings startup Cashbox has reported stellar growth in 2020 so far, having helped over 100,000 users save more than US$2.5 million this year.
Launched in January 2019 with the goal of helping people to easily save money irrespective of their income or social class, Cashbox allows users to earn interest on their savings free of charge and via a seamless mobile interface.
To start using Cashbox all a user has to do is download its mobile app, register a profile, and choose how much they want to save and at what intervals. On the set saving day, the app automatically debits their account and saves it in their Cashbox account. There is also the option for bank transfers.
Chief executive officer (CEO) Sydney Aigbogun told Disrupt Africa he founded Cashbox because he had seen a void in the market.
“The average individual wants to save but wants to do that easily, safely and without having to go through the hassle of unnecessary maintenance fees and charges, and also by using a system they can trust,” he said.
The options available were limited, however, involving various kinds of untrustworthy agents and little use of technology, meaning people were losing money or at least not gaining from it as they should be.
“This to a large extent affected the saving habit of people since they would rather spend their money rather than save it in a system they didn’t trust,” Aigbogun said.
“We decided to find a way to get this savings product to almost anybody that has a mobile phone and wants to save money. With the help of technology, we have been able to build Cashbox and make it extremely secure.”
Uptake has been impressive. In the startup’s first year, it saw 17,000 users save around US$350,000, but that has skyrocketed in 2020.
“In the first seven months of our second year in operation, we have over 100,000 users who have saved over US$2.5 million,” said Aigbogun.
“Our savings grow by up to 40 per cent every month, which is quite encouraging even though we still always want to do more. We revamped our app in June this year and added new features such as allowing users the option to pick the pidgin language as their preferred option when they are using our app. We also have a transfer option which allows users to transfer from their Cashbox account to either another one of their plans or to other Cashbox users.”
Self-funded until now, Cashbox is looking to secure investment in the near future to continue developing its product, having until now been learning about the market and developing a strong MVP.
In the early days, Aigbogun said, the startup had been worried about gaining acceptance.
“Like every startup, we weren’t sure if people would welcome the idea and trust us enough to save their money with us. But within the first week, we already had about 500 registered savers. We found out that many people actually want to save and they just needed a little push, and a platform they could use easily and trust,” he said.
The bulk of Cashbox’s users are millennials, mostly domiciled in major cities across Nigeria like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt.
“However, our long-term expansion plan is that we want Cashbox to be accessible to all and sundry, so we are planning to roll out our services to other cities across Nigeria and neighbouring African countries, and also provide financial services to the unbanked,” said Aigbogun.
“The ultimate plan is to grow into an asset management company with a possible investment portfolio in areas like agriculture and real estate. We also have plans to introduce FX savings and other investment options for our users.”
Cashbox monetises by investing the pool of funds saved in a number of financial instruments and government securities.
“We are still a startup so profit is still on the low side, but we are not doing badly and we see a gradual increase from time to time,” Aigbogun said.
“What is most important to us at the moment is to build a customer-centric product which people can use and refer to others confidently. This we have done.”