CowryWise, Meristem Trustees in alliance for total personal savings experience

CowryWise, a Nigerian FinTech company that seeks to empower customers for unfettered savings, has sealed a major partnership deal with Meristem Trustees Limited, a Lagos-based trust services company regulated by Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The partnership will enable CowryWise customers to enjoy higher rate of returns for their savings accounts that what Nigerian commercial banks offer their customers presently. Meristem Trustees will provide custodial and trusteeship services to savers on the CowryWise platform.

“The platform empowers anyone to create free of charge a automated periodic saving plan, fixed savings plan or save any amount into existing plan using their debit card,” Ahmed Razak, chief executive officer of CowryWise said in a note to BusinessDay. “Meristem Trustees will serve as a Trust to CowryWise savers by keeping in custody CowryWise financial assets on behalf of savers.”

This is best practice in the investment management industry to ensure safety of savers’ funds while enabling savers earn better returns. CowryWise provides a platform that allows users to automate their saving plans and earn returns higher than what banks can give on savings accounts, Razak said.

Since the turn of the century, Nigerian banking industry deposit base has been growing at a decent level of 20% per annum rising from N600 billion in year 2000 to N14 trillion in May 2017.

According to Razak, while this deposit growth looks impressive, savers can earn better on their savings and much more can be mobilised as more than 40million Nigerian adults are still financially excluded.

In addition to its simple online platform for its users, CowryWise has introduced a saving chatbot called Sisi which is integrated with Facebook Messenger.

Sisi enables you access your CowryWise savings account on the go through Facebook Messenger. Our idea of convenience is to enable everyone making a saving decision to do so easily on the go by integrating such convenient decision making moments in their normal social lives, the CowryWise chief said, adding that the burgeoning fintech firm believes that speedy access to savings information and ability to make quick saving decisions will enable Nigerians make better saving choices.

Sisi provides a unique opportunity for more than 16 million Nigerians on Facebook Messenger to have access to easy and rewarding money saving culture.

On the reason behind a chatbot and a web application as against mobile app, Edward Popoola, COwryWise’s chief technical officer, said that over 40% of the users access the CowryWise web applicationvia their mobile phones.

In the financial services industry, service delivery models are changing from interpersonal to personal, from paper-based to electronic records, from branches to branchless. These models are feasible today because a new, cheaper and dynamic financial infrastructure is being built which combines with a growing number of tech-aware population who are empowered with versatile tools: smart phones. The good news is: we are just at the tipping point. Over the next 10 to 20 years, it is very conceivable to see core financial services delivered as a bundled experience: banking, insurance and investment management.

“Hence our focus has been mobile first by ensuring user experience on mobile is flawless,” Popoola said. “Also, the average smart phone user has several apps installed already. Users are comfortable using them on daily basis: bank apps, payment apps and social apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. In order not to add to this burden and still create mobile experience users would find comfortable, we decided to meet our users right through a mobile application they already love and use everyday: Facebook Messenger.”