Ten years ago, in 2007, the world saw a new invention. The smartphone. It changed everything. Everything, that is, except investing. And who could blame the techies? Investing can be tedious. I mean, have you seen those forms! Not only are they long but they’re pretty complicated too. Which is why in December 2016, Liberty launched Stash, the first investment app that invests your small change and that’s 100% free. That’s right: no tracking fees, no sign-up fees, no disinvestment fees – nada!
And it’s pretty easy to sign up. All you need is your full name and cell phone number and in approximately 49 seconds, you’ll have gotten yourself a Stash investment. Which, might we add, is tax-free. According to Juan Labuschagne, one of the developers behind the app, the average person stashes R175 per month – all by pocketing their small change – and this cash is invested into South Africa’s biggest companies (everything from Woolworths to Anglo-American – the full list of companies you’re investing in is available in the app for you to view at any time) and works with any bank so you’ll have a real stake in a company – and your future.
Essentially the app works by reading your text and in-app messages you receive from your bank every time you make a transaction then uses this information to add the extra ‘change’ from these transactions to your Stash. What’s more, to get you started, Liberty gives you R50 just for signing up and you’ll get R10 for each friend you refer so you can start investing immediately. Totally relatable in today’s connected world that’s driven by social media.
And, in a first for SA, you’ll be FICAd in the app. So to cash out your investment all you need is a picture of your ID and a proof of address. And don’t sweat it if you still live at home or don’t receive any post in your name: if you don’t have a proof of address, the app sends a mail to someone you reside with who can simply respond with ‘This person stays with me’. The app will then use the tech in your smartphone to detect whether the information you supply is fraudulent and voila! The easiest cash out in the world – no processing forms, fees or wasted time.
Stash also gives you the option to stash cash on a sunny day (which you’ll set to a certain amount beforehand) as well as smart deposits where the app automatically detects when you’ve spent less in a certain month and immediately stashes the extra cash. Plus, you can stop the app stashing your money before 1 pm every day so you’re not caught unaware if your bank balance is looking a bit low. There is one downside to the app though: although Liberty offers Shariah-complaint funds, the fund Stash uses is not shariah compliant. ‘We are currently only focusing on the broader mass market but will be looking towards Shariah-complaint funds in the future,’ says Juan.
So with no fees and all these amazing benefits, what’s in it for the company behind it all – Liberty? The data. Liberty will use the data from your Stash to gain insight into what you’re spending and where, and can then advise you on the best route for savings, retirement and investing above your Stash investment. None of your information is stored on the app system and the guys behind SnapScan do all the encryption so if Stash ever gets hacked, your money and information will be completely safe.
Stash certainly is a great platform if you’re a first-time investor but for those discerning parents out there, it’s only available to individuals 18 years or older. Juan says this is due to the complicated process of obtaining proof that a bank account actually belongs to a minor but is something Liberty is working on. As for the app’s current users, the majority of them are aged between 18 and 23, with Stash being the first ever form of investing for many of them.
Liberty Stash is free to download but currently only available for Android smartphones. An iOS app is on its way later this year.
Photography Courtesy images