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eQUB, a fintech startup aiming to digitize and decentralize peer-to-peer saving groups and lending circles, has released an upgraded version of its app which it calls ‘eQUB 2.0’.

Founded in 2020 by Yohana Ermias and Alexander Hizikias, eQUB marked its debut as the first mobile application attempting to digitize the traditional rotational saving group, Equb.

“There were no benchmarks set for us, and we built the app from the ground up,” said Alexander Hizikias, co-founder and CEO of eQUB.

Consequently, eQUB’s beta version was released with numerous assumptions. Despite reaching 20,000 users, its retention rate was below the founder’s expectations.

However, after two years of operation and an understanding of real issues, the startup states it has achieved product-market fit by going beyond the mere automation of traditional practices and addressing the community’s pain points.

equb, which holds a grand vision of democratizing peer-to-peer saving groups and lending circles through technological innovation and frictionless payments, has already released the new version on the Play Store and the App Store.

In the previous version, Equb payments were conducted outside the app. However, the updated version now offers in-app payments through the ‘eQub Pay’ feature, providing diverse payment options from wallets to cards. The app is integrated with multiple payment gateways, including ArifPay, Chapa, Kacha, and EthSwitch, with others in the pipeline.

In eQUB 2.0, when winners collect their respective winnings, they automatically receive discounts and credit lines that will enable them to purchase capital and consumer goods from partner merchants. Additionally, eQUB 2.0 introduces perks for Equb administrators, or “Sebsabis,” ensuring that their traditional bonuses are captured within the platform. 

“In our previous version, we required users to fill in various information as part of the KYC process. However, this proved deterrent to many users, so we have now implemented a simpler form,” Alexander explained. The new version features easier onboarding steps to get started and supports multiple languages.

“Once a user signs up as an eQuber on our app, they can choose to create or join an Equb. We also offer dedicated customer support to guide them through the next steps of the process, whether they are creating their own group or joining others via invitation,” added Alexander.

eQUB 2.0 also introduces corporate and MSME Equb packages and ‘Hosted eQUBs’ for individuals who lack partners to initiate their saving circles. The startup has received numerous requests from users who are unable to create their Equb groups. These users have expressed a desire for the company to host Equb that they can join.

The hosted Equbs, currently registering members, will be organized by the app, with the app itself serving as the administrator, bringing together people who are not acquainted with each other. The startup, which is working on integrating its app with the national digital ID, guarantees payouts for these hosted circles and enforces various KYC requirements, such as requesting a letter of employment.  

“These new features will be rolled out biweekly to ensure a seamless user experience without overwhelming our users,” Alexander told Shega.

“In addition to these updates, we are closing our first round of investment soon,” he added.

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Kaleab Girma, an Addis Ababa-based reporter and researcher, with over six years of experience in the field. He currently serves as Shega's Editor-in-Chief and specializes in reporting on small businesses, innovation, technology, and startups in Ethiopia.