Payments firm Chipper Cash is in Kenya, having launched operations back in October 2018. Chipper Cash was conceptualized by two Africans from Grinnell College in the USA. The backbone of the idea was straightforward: the founders, Ugandan Ham Serunjogi who also serves as CEO, and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled who is the firm’s president, wanted to create a platform that would allow people to send cash across African borders easily and freely.
With offices in Kenya, Ghana, and more recently Nigeria, Chipper Cash, which is headquartered in San Francisco, is obviously targeting to expand its footprint across Africa. The same sentiment was echoed by the firm’s East Africa Managing Director Ed Magema who also shared difficulties encountered when sending or receiving cash while he was in school in the US.
“Having studied abroad, I always faced challenges whenever I needed to send money home,” Magema, a 2015 Harvard Math graduate revealed.
The primary feature of the Chipper Cash app is its cross border payments capabilities. According to Magema, Chipper Cash is the leading cross-border platform operating in Africa. Account holders in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ghana can load money into their Chipper wallets via mobile money services, while users in Nigeria can do so using their debit cards. Nigeria is a special case given the fact that traditionally it has been a cash heavy society with most financial transactions involving hard cash and bank transfers. But this is set to change with Chipper’s aggressive campaign to bring mobile money to Nigerians
The Chipper app, which is available for smartphone users (both Android and iOS), is baked with a bunch of features that the firm is selling. It is straightforward and easy to play around with, with an even simpler sign up process.
MD Ed Magema highlighted another exciting aspect, payments. Users can use its Check Out feature to pay for products and services by simply sharing a payment link embedded under each user’s profile tab. Users are free to also pay for their friends and family. At the moment, the feature is undergoing rigorous testing but is still functional for interested parties.
Chipper Cash’s principal aim is to push for financial inclusion in Africa where only 21% of adults are financially included according to the World Bank Findex report. The market is still growing, and existing fintech firms are striving to ensure unbanked majority in Africa have access to affordable financial services a number of needs, including cross border payments.
Speaking of the Kenyan journey, Chipper Cash admits that the country is a big market. “We have seen a huge surge in businesses that want to use payments services,” highlighted Mr. Magema. The same can be said for Uganda and Rwanda, where use cases cover cross-border transactions performed by merchants, for example.
The MD argues that interoperability can go a long way in solving some of the issues that payment services have faced in the country. Largely interoperability has been hindered by lack of consensus by telcos operating in different regimes. But a solution might be in the offing given Chipper’s ambition to connect users of different mobile money providers across several African countries.
Chipper Cash App
The app is available for for Android and iOs handset users. The app’s design is simple and the usage is pretty straight forward.
Perhaps its most notable feature and the firm’s upper hand is in airtime purchases. Users can buy airtime at crazy discounted rates (for instance for just KES 98 Chipper gives you airtime worth KES 100) with discounts increasing as the amount of airtime purchases increase.
At the moment, airtime purchases are available for Safaricom and Airtel users in Kenya. All a user needs to do is go to their profile tab at the bottom and click on “Buy Airtime”.
The Check Out feature is available here too under the “Share Your Payment Link” option. This comes in handy for both online and brick and mortar merchants who make and receive several payments on any given day.
Asked about customer support, Magema says Chipper’s customer support is unrivaled given the team gives each user a personalized experience. Each user’s issue is dealt with to satisfaction. Users can post their questions or issues within the app and customer experience specialists then reach out to them in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, the firm pushes informative articles on the app. Its social media pages are filled with short videos that explain basic features of the app.
Users can add as many mobile money numbers (and bank debit cards for Nigeria) to their profiles. This is especially crucial for users who move from one country to another. This feature makes payments easy, especially for groups that do not want to convert their cash from one country to the other. Forex is handled within the app and Chipper Cash says they give standard market rates for the exchange rates.
We will be taking the app for a spin and give a conclusive assessment at a later date.
“We want to expand financial inclusion and connect all of Africa,” summarized Magema.