• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
businessday logo


How Stax app makes financial services accessible to small businesses


Stax, a unique app is helping many individuals, and small businesses send money, pay bills without an internet connection.

“For me, Stax is the culmination of 12 years of work. I experienced the pain of building bank accounts and mobile wallets across Africa at my first startup,” said Ben Lyon, CEO of Hover Developer Services, Inc., a fintech company behind the brand Stax.

“Then, I realized that pain was shared by virtually every startup in Africa, having worked at a fintech accelerator. So, I decided to co-find Hover, the company behind Stax, to do something about it, focusing on making USSD more accessible to third parties.”

“Our technology made it possible for people to get a regular app experience when using USSD. We started as an API platform for developers where they could use our APIs to build products that automatically USSD sessions in the background,” he said.

He noted that his organisation decided to change its roué to market in 2020, and became a consumer-facing service provider, and that birthed Stax.

“We built a technology that could automate USSD sessions on Android phones. This meant that all you need is a regular network connection – the kind you would use to make calls or send messages. With this, you would be able to perform financial transactions with a mobile app experience offline. A solution like Stax did not exist, so we created it.”

The fintech expert noted that their goal with Stax is to empower our users to make sound financial decisions and be in control of their money wherever they are, even when “offline” with mobile data switched off on their smartphone.

Read also: Pollicy’s digital ambassador program targets 1m upskilled women by 2040

Speaking on what makes Stax different from the regular USSD channel. He explained.

“We recognized that the USSD channel accounts for 94-97 percent of all digital consumer payments in Africa, but that USSD is renowned for its unforgiving user experience. For example, a USSD session can end without warning, leaving you confused about whether or not a transaction was successful.

“In addition, you don’t get receipts, and it is just too robotic. So we decided that if we could find a way to automate USSD-based services behind a simple user interface, we could improve the customer experience by 100percent and improve the accessibility of USSD-based services.

For instance, more than a billion people worldwide are not educated or able to do mathematical calculations. Some also deal with visual/motor impairments. For them, USSD is a hostile and inaccessible channel; USSD relies on text-based menus and numbers, after all.

With Stax, we take the stress out of USSD by making hundreds of USSD-based financial services available within a single app. We make it possible for more people to be included and enjoy the money they have worked hard for or have access to receive money, whether they can count or not.” He noted.

On how the brand provides solutions in the economy, the CEO said Stax is the primary brand offering with a mission to build a universal money app for Africa–encompassing bank accounts, crypto, and mobile wallets in a single app that works without using the internet.

Stax makes it easy to manage money across multiple services. Need more space on your phone? Delete your bank apps and replace them with Stax. Need a reliable way to transact offline? Transact with Stax.” He added.

Explaining how anyone can access the app, he noted that Stax is only available for Android users today. Visit www.stax.me or search “Stax – Automated USSD Banking” on Google Play. It’s free and only takes up to to 6.5mbs. Once downloaded, link your accounts, you’re ready to manage your money in one app.

Recalling memorable challenges as an entrepreneur, Lyon, said that they are numerous. “At a high level, I’d say that the most memorable challenge is the industry itself. To make Stax possible, we’ve had to ‘map the terrain’ of USSD across the continent. For example, you can see this work in our new USSD directory, https://ussd.directory/.

With an increasing view of the terrain, we’re now adding information like fees and reliability rates to services like MTN MoMo, Safaricom M-PESA, Zenith Bank *966#, among others, he noted.

We’re building libraries and standards for the first time across an intensely-fragmented industry, and it’s taken years to get here.

On where he sees the brand in the next five years he said, “Serving hundreds of millions of users across Africa and Asia.”

“Our goal is for Stax to become an offline payment super app, where you can access and manage your money, participate in borderless commerce, and access third-party services like loans, savings accounts, among others, via a single app marketplace that works without using the internet.”

On key achievement, he said the business has managed to achieve 200,000+ downloads across multiple African markets and support 100+ bank and mobile money services with a team of less than 15.

In his words for other entrepreneurs, he said “I’ve been in African fintech for 12 years, and I’m still figuring out the basics. It’s such a vibrant, fast-moving industry that it’s impossible for anyone to keep up or achieve mastery.”

“Despite my years in the industry, I consider myself a newcomer, and I feel imposter syndrome as much as the next person. The point is, anyone in the know should feel like an imposter, so don’t let that discourage you from starting something and giving it your best shot. I’ve seen many first-time entrepreneurs with little-to-zero relevant experience disrupt industries, and you can too. You just have to start–to take that leap.”