In January this year, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) admitted Sycamore Capital, a fintech firm, to its Regulatory Sandbox. The admission is effective for 6 months as from 10th January, 2022, as the firm seeks to test its Cashlet App, a digital mobile-based unit trusts investment application.
If successfully tested and launched in the market, the Cashlet App is expected to drive investor participation in the capital markets through collective investment schemes (CIS). This will also to open up the Cashlet app to everyone to download and sign up instead of the current limited number of users.
We spoke to Kwahu Foh, co-founder at Sycamore Capital, to get an in-depth understanding of the Cashlet App, investor opportunities and its plans for the future.
1. Tell us about yourself and what you do
My name is Kwaku Foh and I am a Co-founder at Sycamore Capital. I lead the commercial and operations side of the business. I have been part of the team from Day 1 and so its been an exciting journey so far
2. Talk to us about Sycamore Capital and its business offerings
Sycamore Capital is a local Fintech that is incorporated in Kenya and was recently admitted into the CMA Sandbox program to launch the Cashlet app. The team behind the Cashlet app comes from diverse backgrounds but with deep local and international expertise in technology (from companies such as Andela, and Microsoft) and financial services (from companies like Goldman Sachs, ABSA and I&M Bank). You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we are always keen to talk.
The Cashlet app is currently our first and only product, and we are solely focused on launching it, get feedback from users and making it the best personal finance app possible for the Kenyan market. However, we are actively looking to bring other apps into the market and these will be duly announcement in the next couple of months.
3. Tell us about the Cashlet App and what its addition to the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) of Kenya means
We have a big savings and investing culture issue in Kenya which is one of the main reasons that prompted the development of the Cashlet app. The fact is that Kenya has the lowest saving and investing rate (14%) among the top economies in East Africa (Tanzania – 36%; Uganda – 22%). This is despite the fact that Kenya is the biggest economy and that the average Kenyan earns 2 times more income than those in the peer countries. In addition, the latest statistics show that only 17% of Kenyan adults are financially healthy, and 8 of 10 cannot deal financially with an emergency if it happened today. One can try and explain this away but in reality it is a big challenge.
This is why we have developed the app. The Cashlet app aims to be the first fully, digital, online investment platform that enables Kenyans to invest in multiple unit trusts funds in a modern way. It address the problem of simplicity, deposit and withdrawal flexibility, low minimum amounts, safety, financial literacy, and attractive returns, which is are at the core of the challenges with saving and investing in the country. Our mission is to help people invest, manage and grow their money in the simplest way possible. Most industries in Kenya have been transformed by the power of technology and mobile apps. Unfortunately, the personal finance industry, including savings and investing space, has been left behind and we are looking to change this together with our partners. Simply put, we want to uberize the space.
The addition to the CMA Sandbox program means that we can launch the app for it to be used by a limited number of users over the next 6 months. Because of this and the fact that demand to download the app has been incredible, it will be on a first come first serve basis. We encourage people who are interested to sign up to join the Cashlet waitlist on our website to get early access.
3. Which markets do you currently operate in?
We are launching the beta version of the app on the Google Playstore in Kenya in February, 2022. The iOS version will be released in Q2 2022. At the moment we are solely focused on delivering a fantastic product and investing experience for local Kenya market so we don’t have plans to launch in other markets at the moment.
4. What benefits do investors stand to gain while using the Cashlet App?
In terms of opportunity for investors, it boils down to 6 things.
- Safe and confidential: All investment products on the Cashlet are provided by licensed fund mangers that are regulated by the Capital Markets Authority. Your info is also protected by secured passcode and bank grade encryptions
- Modern: It is fully digital. Absolutely no paper work, branch visits, meet ups with an advisor…none of that. It is all self directly and you do things at your own pace
- Convenient: Start with only Ksh. 500. This means that anyone can become an investor and investing is no longer restricted to only the top quartile of wealthy individuals in the country. Deposits can also be done via MPESA on the app in just 5 seconds
- Easy access: You can withdraw at anytime in 3 simple step and get your money back within 1-2 working days. This comes in handy during emergencies
- Delightful user experience: It s the best user experience in the market. Everyone who uses the app loves it. Simple, intuitive, super easy to use. We are constantly taking feedback from users and improving and you can reach out to our support team at anytime
- Attractive interest rates: You earn interest on your funds by investing in unit trust funds in Kenya. Over time we are aiming to add other products beyond unit trust to help investors have a diversified portfolio on the app.
5. What would it mean for the company if the Cashlet App is successfully tried and tested?
If we are successful over the next 6 months as part of the CMA Sandbox program, we will be able to open up the Cashlet app for everyone to download and sign up instead of what we have now which is only for a limited number of users. There will be no need to join our Cashlet waitlist before being able to use the app.
6. What do you see as the future of the Cashlet App?
Our initial goals for 2022 is to launch the app on both Google Playstore and Apple Store, to enable us to get significant feedback from our users and improve the app to make it the best that it can be. On the long term we want to build up the app to help our users to handle the full spectrum of personal finance challenges. Investing and personal finance goes beyond unit trust funds, and we have it on our road map to add stocks, bonds, and real estate investment products over the course of the year. So it promises to be a challenging but exciting year for the Cashlet team. As we add these additional products, we will communicate to all our users so that they are aware.
We are embarking on an exciting journey and we are building features that will ensure that the Cashlet app is not just another financial app, but a one-stop shop for you to manage, invest, and grow your money minus all the complication. Our mission is to support over 5 million Kenyans to become financially healthy. Sign up to join the waitlist on our website and join us on this mission.