Traditionally, the subject of Money Management and Financial literacy has not featured as part of the educational system. While considered by many to be a fundamental life skill, the reality has left many young people ill-equipped to manage their finances. Understanding the importance of money management from an early age can help young people to better manage their finances as they move to adulthood.
Although there will be a time when a financial literacy curriculum will be added in schools, Cashee, led by Brad Whittfield, is a payment card and mobile application in the MENA region helping both the youth and their parents better understand financial literacy.
In this interview with Brad, we find out more about the company’s journey.
Brief us about your journey at the company, what inspired you to start the company?
Cashee was founded in 2020 in the middle of the Covid lockdown. As we know, Covid resulted
in a massive acceleration in the adoption of digital and online services. My co-founder and I were brainstorming ideas on how to better empower the youth of the MENA region in their digital life.
Cashee’s mission is to improve financial literacy and increase financial inclusion for youth in the MENA region. Young people in the MENA region have been largely excluded from the financial
system – in many countries unable to even open their own bank account. I believe financial literacy is a fundamental skill that we must invest in at an early age. The Cashee platform promises a safe and secure payment card and mobile app, providing parents with the confidence to allow their children participate in this digital and cashless world.
What are the initial challenges you faced and what are the reasons behind company’s long-standing success?
As with all financial products, there are a lot of inherent dependencies and regulatory approvals required. This is a good thing – if it were easy, everyone would do it. However, the time it takes to navigate the white-water rapids of the fintech ecosystem needs a good amount of time and funding. Our approach has been to fully engage with regulators every step of the way. Not to rely on intermediaries but rather let the regulator hear directly from us – our vision, our passion, and our determination to make a positive social impact in the countries we operate.
What are the products or services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
Cashee provides the youths in the MENA region with a banking mobile application as well as a personalized Visa card. In addition to the financial app, Cashee has developed an educational platform which promotes and teaches many money related topics targeted towards the youth.
The banking app and Visa card acts as one of the tools young people can use to put into practise the skills we teach.
How do you decide to take the company a step further?
Cashee recently closed its Series A funding round and signed a strategic partnership with Arab
National Bank in Saudi Arabia which represents a really important milestone for us.
Our immediate focus in 2023 is to execute our rollout and growth plans in KSA. KSA is really an incredible country which is rapidly growing. We are also in the process of setting up our legal presence in Egypt and are in discussions with potential banking partners in the country with the objective of launching Cashee in 2024.
Being a successful leader, please share your views on the current business scenario across globe after Covid19 pandemic.
I think Covid accelerated a lot of digital adoption. My view, at the moment, is that Covid no longer has a significant impact on business – especially operating in the UAE and KSA – two countries which handled the challenges of the pandemic superbly well.
Why it is said that the workforce plays a vital role in every business’s growth? Please tell us about your team.
In the fintech space, digital payment knowledge is beyond paramount – between the three founders, Cashee has close to 50 years of digital payments experience in the MENA region. Having a dream is great, but I can safely say that our collective track record in the payments space and relationships within the ecosystem was critical for our early success.
Looking beyond the payments space, our strategic decision to build an in-house tech team in India has proven to be valuable. There were countless times we needed to pivot technically and alter our development roadmap. This flexibility and speed has been and will continue to be important when executing.
Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
My personal background is in finance. I have spent a big part of my professional career in M&A – helping companies fundraise, make acquisitions and explore exit opportunities. This gave me a really good understanding of what drives value for shareholders.
Since then, I have held a number of Group CFO roles in the fintech and digital banking space. I really enjoy supporting tech companies going through a period of hyper growth, expansion in order to maximize investor returns.
What are the key achievements of your business journey?
We have been really fortunate in the early stages of Cashee. In addition to successfully closing a number of funding rounds, Cashee has been able to grow a really significant partner ecosystems.
To mention a few, we were accepted into the Visa Fastrack Program. Visa has provided Cashee with a lot of support in our go to market plan.
We want to give our young users with as much value as possible. As part of that, we have partnered with companies which resonate with the youth – cinemas, gaming, entertainment and food. Our partners see the intrinsic value of partnering with Cashee in helping them build loyalty within the young population.
Our strategy has always been to build a really strong partnership ecosystem.