Fintech company upnup believes that people want greater control over their finances, especially as the cost of living skyrockets, making it increasingly challenging to save each month. In this interview, Justin Asher, head of strategy and marketing at upnup, explains how an
innovative micro-savings and investment app will bring users closer to controlling their own wealth, regardless of what they may or may not know about savings and investment.
Head of strategy and marketing for upnup, Justin Asher, answers some exploratory questions about the product, its launch plans and what role the founders believe upnup will play in the future of fintech.
Q: Who is upnup?
A: The upnup team is made up of Senior Management from UBU International (PTY) Ltd who have worked together for the last few years with a focus on building products within the fintech industry. We’re all entrepreneurs and strategic thinkers, who have found a way to influence the way consumers approach their personal savings behavior. Our experience over the past three years in the industry led us to build this product, upnup. To many, the word “savings” is something you associate with your parents who would nag you to put small amounts into a piggy bank – you never associated it with long-term growth or investment opportunities, until now.
Q: So what is upnup?
A: It’s a micro-savings and investment tool, in the form right now of a mobile app, which allows a user to save small amounts, based upon their daily purchases and personal in-app settings, through a method of rounding up (roundup) or adding a fixed amount (addup) to their
transactions. Through the act of passively setting aside small amounts every day, a user has the ability to automatically invest the micro-savings into things like cryptocurrencies, fractional shares and other traditional and non-traditional investment options.
Q: Can I do all of this right now?
A: We’re launching our product in a phased approach. We’ll first only offer an automatic investment into Bitcoin (BTC) but will soon thereafter add features such as other cryptocurrency options, fractional shares, cash interest-bearing savings accounts and more.
Q: Why Bitcoin specifically?
A: There is so much hype around the biggest cryptocurrency right now that it is impossible to ignore. Not only that, but in our research we found that a large number of people who know about Bitcoin, are curious to get into it, but skeptical or unsure about using exchanges an having to start off with big amounts. Using the upnup app gives you a real way to become an investor in cryptocurrency by putting away small amounts off the back of purchases you’re already making – without worrying about staking large amounts of funds. Call it an easy onramp into crypto. We’ll soon be offering additional cryptocurrency options, such as Etherium, Solana and USDC, so watch this space!
Q: Why would I want to buy Bitcoin weekly or daily when available? Wouldn’t it make sense to rather save up and buy it when I feel I have enough money?
A: If you have large amounts of money to spare, it might be worthwhile purchasing some Bitcoin right now. But using the theory of dollar-cost-averaging (in our case, rand-cost-averaging), buying Bitcoin on a weekly basis, or daily when this option becomes available, will give you the best of the market price in the long term without having to worry about market volatility. For example, had you been investing $10 (R146) a week, for the past three years, you’d have invested a total of $1,570 (about R23 800) and have a total portfolio value of $7,179 (R105 389,59). To get that kind of value (+357%) off one purchase, you’d need to be extremely educated on predicting the market and probably very lucky too! There’s a saying that says – time in the market is better than timing the market! If you want to calculate more options, click here.
Q: Back to the product, how do you know what a user spends on a daily basis?
A: We have built extremely complex integrations with our open banking partner, Stitch. This offers the user an incredibly safe and secure way to link their bank account to our mobile app. Once their account is linked through their authentication and banking authorizations, the software is able to analyze their spend and determine what the roundup or add up amounts should be on every transaction they conclude through the linked bank account.
Q: It sounds complicated, is it?
A: No, it’s actually incredibly simple and easy. The signup process – which includes the various authorisation steps and user verifications (like KYC) only takes a couple of minutes to complete. In less than a minute a user can set up their preferences and from there on out it becomes a “set and forget” kind of user journey. The only time you need to return to the app is when you want to see (or show-off to friends) how your savings have been growing, or change your preferences.
Q: Is this where you and the other founding members of the product think the world of Fintech is going?
A: We certainly believe that the world of fintech – especially in Africa – is growing at a rapid rate and the numbers are there to prove it. Cryptocurrencies and other ways of creating wealth are taking the world by storm and we want to bring users five steps closer to it all. Consumers seem to no longer be too interested in traditional models and want to be part of something exciting, something new and something fresh. The way products like Uber, Airbnb and others took the market by storm is how we believe fintechs will dominate over the coming years. The more control we give users over their finances, the more they will want to be in control. Our product suite is specifically designed for users on both sides of the coin to get onboard regardless whether they know a lot, or a little, about savings and investments.
Q: Finally, how and where can I find the app?
We’re undergoing our final testing and will be available on the iOS and Google Play app stores very soon. To join our early access user list, fill out the form (https://upnup.co.za/early-access-sign-up/) . We’ll be in touch soon when we’re ready to welcome you to the upnupside and you’ll be the first in South Africa to start micro-investing in Bitcoin.