Don’t fight it: earning solely in naira is a drag on your aspirations to be a billionaire.
A currency that doesn’t massively slack under unpredictable political pressure is an essential store for your value. In general, more productive economies provide greater value for investment. To build wealth in the long-term, therefore, you should want part of your hard-earned salary mixing with those of the world’s richest people.
But how does one invest in high performing developed-economy companies from this part of the world? A number of startups in the Nigerian fintech space are proposing solutions. We take a glance at what three of the current players are offering you.
In less than ten minutes, you can sign up and deposit money into your Bamboo account to buy Apple and Amazon stocks.
Founded in early 2019, Bamboo curates top stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and American depositary receipts (ADRs) in the United States. The company says its mobile app gives you “unrestricted access to over 3000 stocks listed on the Nigerian stock exchange and US stock exchanges”.
A tab on the app shows “the most-owned stocks in the Bamboo community”, an informal user-generated guide to novice investors looking for the right stock. If you are a sector-specific investor, you will find stocks classified by eight categories including technology, finance, entertainment, transportation, and retail.
As an add-on to keep users up to date, Bamboo has a news feed that aggregates latest movements in global finance markets.
The company is backed by Chrysalis Capital, an investment management firm in Nigeria that focuses on seed and series stage technology startups. Part of Bamboo’s finance technology is supported by Flutterwave and counts the payment company’s co-founder, Iyin Aboyeji, as an equity investor.
As Cashestate, they set out to give Nigerians access to the US real estate market. Newly rebranded as Rise, their revised mission is to broaden the scope to various secure dollar-denominated investments.
With a minimum of $10, users can choose from a portfolio of 30 high-growth US stocks and “own stakes in popular companies like Google, Alibaba and Facebook”.
Rise offers four asset classes: Us real estate, stocks, technology companies – at a staggering 33% annual return – and Eurobonds. Owing to its brand restructure, it is inviting users to sign up to get early access to the new investment opportunities.
The company says over 3000 investors currently use its service and has over N190 million worth of assets under management. The platform is only available to residents of Nigeria but is a registered investment adviser with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, while providing financial services in Nigeria under a Cooperative License.
LIke Bamboo, signing up on Chaka is a rather straightforward process of verifying your phone number, and entering your bank details, especially your Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“Our platform is regulated in the US by Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and in Nigeria by the SEC, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), and the Nigerian Stock Exchange through partnered brokers”, a company representative with technical knowledge of the app’s functionality told me in a chat. “Also, all data transfer to regulators is AES-encrypted and protected with bank-grade encryption”.
With the security question settled (at least for now), what differentiates the app from Bamboo?
Chaka has a “most popular stocks” tab that may not contain the same list of stocks as other platforms. It has a “watchlist” that lists some of the more popular stocks in US and Nigerian exchange markets. A discerning user could find it a useful medium for cross-referencing prices and returns, as a gauge for deciding on an investment.
“Chaka is available for everyone,” according to the company’s rep. “We provide direct access to trade local and global stocks directly from Nigeria. That is also why we have gone with a web platform first. So that everyone can benefit from this opportunity.”
They do not yet have a mobile app. “For now, we have a web platform so that everyone can be able to get started immediately.”
None of these are banks or traditional financial institutions. They are all under two years in terms of operations. As with every investment platform, users must weigh risks with clear eyes.
But Nigerians are showing great appetite for the alternatives fintechs provide. Wealth management and investment tech platforms are collaborating with existing financial service providers and regulators to inspire confidence and drive adoption.
While they issue caveats on the health of stocks and projected returns, these startups make the claim that you are investing through trusted brokers and management firms, with your deposit insured. And there will be no stories in paying your benefits.
Their pitch to consumers? Verify, trust, then trade securely.