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Nigerian financial system has seen more fintech startups in the last couple of years, and most of them offer savings, loan and investment services. This has been warmly embraced especially by the present millennials who bask in the digital world and breath in the technological space. PiggyVest and Cowrywise, two great Fintech companies have been making tremendous waves in the market since their inception and the silent competition between them has been observed for years. De Critic have decided to unmask both brands in our solemn duty to inform the public about good or bad brands. Here are the facts.

FOUNDATION

PiggyVest was founded by Joshua Chibueze (Chief Marketing Officer), Odunayo Eweniyi (Chief Operating Officer) and Somto Ifezue (Chief Executive Officer) and launched on the 7th of January 2016 as “Piggybank.ng”  as a savings-only platform. In February of 2019 Piggybank.ng rebranded to “PiggyVest” and then began to offer investments opportunities to users in addition to savings. It launched its Android app in July and its iOS app by August 2017.

Cowrywise was founded by  Razaq Ahmed (Chief Executive Officer) and Edward Popoola (Chief Technology Officer) in March 2017 as a wealth management platform for young Africans. Its investment feature was later launched in June 2019. It launched its Android app in March and it’s iOS app in October 2018, to mark it’s one year anniversary.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE & SAFETY

Both brands have smart investor advisers/lawyers under their sleeve, hence to lawfully navigate the turbulent waters of establishing a crowd-funding or public prospectus, they discovered a working structure thus.

PiggyVest operated in partnership with 2 Microfinance banks and used their licenses. However, in early 2018, it acquired Gold Microfinance bank and its license. It is also a registered cooperative – Piggytech Cooperative Multipurpose Society Limited (Registration number, 16555). All saved funds are warehoused with and managed by AIICO Capital, registered and licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which is said to be safe and guaranteed.

Cowrywise is a registered Cooperative under whose license (registration number 15845) Cowrywise.com provides financial services. Cowrywise.com is a property of CowryWise Financial Technology Limited, a company duly registered with CAC (RC Number: 1419869). All funds are held by Meristem Trustees, a company registered with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on behalf of savers. These assets are marked to market periodically to ensure savers are protected.

SAVINGS PLATFORMS

PiggyVest savings option                                         Cowrywise savings options

Piggybank Savings This is the main saving feature for PiggyVest and it can be funded in two ways. Firstly, it can be funded using AutoSave. This is an option that automatically debits a fixed amount of money (as set by the user) from a user’s debit card. Auto-debits period can be customized to be daily, weekly, or monthly. Secondly, it can also be funded using QuickSave. This option enables you to add more funds to your savings. This is to help you meet up with savings target especially if you have missed a day or two. Regular Savings With this feature, you can set your savings plan to be daily, weekly or monthly for a minimum of 3 months. You can also choose to manually top up your savings plan randomly with other amounts outside the automated scheduled amount
SafeLock This feature allows you to put an amount of money aside from your normal PiggyVest savings without having any access to it for a fixed period time set by you. It is like a self-customized fixed deposit account. Life Goals This plan helps you meet commitments to long term financial goals. It is similar to periodic plans but it has a minimum maturity period of 1 year.
Target Savings also called Savings Challenge. Unlike Safelock where you just save for a particular purpose by yourself, this feature helps you and others save for a common interest. Each of you from the PiggyVest app can be saving collectively into a central place until you all reach your target and you will be paid along with the accrued interest. Halal Savings This feature is specially tailored for Muslims who don’t want to earn interest on their savings. It does not earn interest.  They can be set up as periodic plans, life goals, save as you earn plans or fixed plan.
Flex Naira This is a flexible savings wallet where interests earned on all other PiggyVest accounts are paid. You can fund your Piggybank, Target, Safelock, Flex Dollar or Investify accounts using funds in your Flex Naira account. Saving circles This is a group saving feature where people come together to save and invest and then withdraw funds back into their bank accounts.
Flex Dollar A feature that lets you save, invest and transfer funds in Dollars. Flex Dollar allows you save in dollars so you can beat currency devaluation and inflation rates. With Flex Dollar, you can convert your naira to dollars instantly from your Flex Naira wallet or your bank card. Interests are accrued daily but paid monthly.   United Capital Nigerian Eurobond fund It is a type of mutual fund that invests in Dollar-denominated Eurobonds, floated by the Federal Government of Nigeria, as well as domestic top-performing companies like SEPLAT, Ecobank and Firstbank. With this Eurobond Fund, Cowrywise users can now invest in dollar-based assets, using naira. It is for long-term investment.  

Investment

PiggyVest, in April 2019, added an investment feature called Investify. This feature allows you access to pre-vetted low-medium risk primary and secondary investment opportunities easily with any amount without any fee/charge. And Cowrywise, in May 2019, introduced Mutual Funds where multiple investors can pool funds to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds through a Systematic Investment Programme (SIP). It is grouped into low risk, medium risk and high-risk investments.

Let’s talk about Interest

PiggyVest interest rates are very defined. It has an interest rate of 10% per annum on Piggybank, Target and Flex Naira accounts. You earn an interest of 10% per annum on funds in your flex account but this is subject to a minimum of 4 withdrawals in a month. You can earn up to 15.5% per annum on SafeLock, 6% per annum on Flex Dollars (depending on the market) and 25% on Investify.

Cowrywise interest ranges between 10% and 15% per annum on savings. This is dependent on how long you lock your plan and the overall interest rate environment. This annual interest rate is computed daily and accrues to your plan. United Capital Nigerian Eurobond Fund has an interest rate of 8% per annum. Interest on mutual funds depends solely on the fund’s performance.

What about Withdrawals?

Using PiggyVest, you can withdraw anytime you want, however, you can only withdraw for free on the set withdrawal dates. Withdrawing on days outside of the set dates would attract a 5% breaking fee on the amount you are withdrawing.

Using Cowrywise, you can only withdraw at the set maturity date. You can choose to withdraw some or all of your savings together with interests. You can decide to roll over the plan for another period or withdraw part or whole.

Our judgement?

In the end, they are both great companies offering first-class services to their customers. At first, users were wary of the change of name from PiggyBank to Piggyvest, but so far so good, it has shown itself to be a step in the right direction. As at September 2019, a glitch was experienced as investors were finding it hard to access the web and mobile platform of Piggyvest. This eventually proved to be a domain issue and has been since resolved. From our interviews and investigations, the brand Piggyvest, so far, has gained the trust of so many investors, local and foreign.

Cowrywise too has gained great momentum in the minds of so many local and foreign investors. ‘Amazing, efficient, secure’ are the words we continue to hear from our interviewed users. We are not sure why the name Cowrywise was preferred. But one thing is sure – the founders and operators have made people embrace the name. We made a ghost-shopping and found their marketers to be relatable. In the end, trust is the life-wire of any business.

Come to think of it, which one would you rather grow your money in?

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11 Responses

  1. I use PiggyVest to Auto save & safe lock funds…. One of the best decisions I made last year.

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Emmanuel Okonkwo
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Emmanuel Okonkwo is a professional content/creative/copywriter; a critic and a lawyer. He is a published writer internationally and locally; the founder and editor of De Critic. He holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy & Communications; a diploma degree in Copywriting & Marketing; and others. Crazy right? He has written for some of the world best marketing agencies, influencers, blogs and magazines. He is unique, rational, fun, radical and balanced.

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