Abeg.app is a fintech app made by young Nigerians that makes sending and receiving money fun.

Tech companies are fun. At least that’s what the movies have sold to us. For years, Silicon Valley has sought to innovate work culture to enhance the creative output of its finest hands. Open door offices, undesignated seats, ping pong tables, weekend casuals at work, if you can think of it, it has probably been done.

The jury is still out on whether the new work culture actually benefits workers and companies in the long run. One thing is clear, the fun in tech companies rarely, if ever, translates to their customers.

At least, that’s how Dare Adekoya, CEO and co-founder of Abeg.app feels. “Most brands are not exciting, I decided to break all the rules by approaching from a more fun point of view,” he told Benjamindada.com in a recent interview.

While he wouldn’t call names, it’s clear to see. Outside of the hakuna matata interior design of most tech companies, they are just as rigid as their non-tech counterparts. From the product design to user experience to corporate communications, everything seems to follow a laid-down pattern. Startups used to be known for breaking the rules, but not anymore. You know, why reinvent the playbook if it still works?

Well, that isn’t the team at Abeg though.

Dare is no stranger to going in the opposite direction of the crowd. At the age of 13, he had already made up his mind he wasn’t going to the university. He would later go on to learn UX design after a couple of attempts at coding – something he had seen his big brother do.

So, what’s special about the Abeg app?

Inside the Abeg app

One look at the app design shows why there is so much buzz around the company. The playful, user-friendly design, coupled with informal parlance in the copy, is the closest thing to a home-run for design enthusiasts.

Its appeal to younger users is also noticeable. As one user remarked via Twitter, it’s an app built by millennials, for millennials. You get the same feeling when speaking with members of the team.

It’ll surprise many readers, but the app has been in the works for the better part of the last two years. Dare recalls starting the design for the Abeg app in December 2018. “It took that long to build. We took a lot of feedback and reviews with friends,” he said.

The app is not just about aesthetics. In our interview with Dare, he said, “Waiting for debits, sending with account numbers, those things are the ghetto. People like things that work.” And that’s what the team set out to do.

While many apps can perform peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions, the Abeg team has gotten much praise for the efficiency with which the app works. According to some users, Abeg is the fastest way to send and receive money in the country.

Although the speed of transactions relative to the competition is difficult to verify, one thing that is attestable is the ease of transactions. To send money via the Abeg app, all you need is the Abeg tag or handle of the recipient. The abegtag is something similar to a username and is reminiscent of the way America’s CashApp operates. For Dare, the American company has always been a source of inspiration. “I’ve always been jealous that we don’t have CashApp or PayPal,” he remarked.

This is a remarkable shift from account numbers and phone numbers, which are the typical requirements for initiating transactions using other fintech platforms in Nigeria.

That’s not all, though.

In addition to having one of the most efficient P2P transaction platforms, Abeg has more functions on the way. Already, users can send money anonymously by long-pressing the send button on the app. In the coming months, users will also be able to form a co-operative savings community with their friends and raise funds towards a specific cause. The team is also planning on introducing a merchandise store where users can purchase Abeg-branded items.

Early indications for Abeg

Since it launched on September 22, 2018, Abeg has gained over 5800 users and processed millions of naira in transactions. While it is too early to call it a success, many onlookers will agree that it is headed in that direction.

Perhaps the biggest argument for the success of Abeg is how easily it fits into the Nigerian giveaway culture on social media. Financial giveaways have become a key ingredient of social media marketing strategy. They are an easy way to grow social media accounts. With many young people looking for supplementary income, getting money for racking up a couple of RTs or following an account is a great deal.

The ease of transactions on Abeg.app means that giveaways may take a new turn soon. Multiple giveaways have already taken place using the app. A cursory glance at social media might give the impression that giveaways are the most common use case for the Abeg app. It’s not a surprise, though, as even the app encourages users to “make someone happy with cash”.

Micheal Okoh, the company CTO, says he's noticed it too. "People do giveaway trains on Abeg. Some do as much as N5000 to 20+ people," he replied when asked whether  giveaways were a popular trend on Abeg.

Users are having other kinds of fun with the app though. Sending money within the Abeg  app is free and you can also attach a short message to the recipient. Micheal says he's noticed something creative happening. "People use small amounts between 1 naira to 10 naira to chat with themselves" he said. The company plans of keeping P2P transactions free for as long as possible. We might yet see more users adopt other creative uses.

Conclusion

When asked how the team was formed, Dare mentioned that they were just friends who came together to do something new. Currently, the team consists of just six people, all in their 20s.

Close-knit and fun-loving, the Abeg team is showing that it’s okay to share your fun side with users. The team is intent on making financial transactions fun. And from early indications, they are doing a good job at it. The startup seems to be already building a loyal customer base.

As more features roll out and the company has to deal with the problems associated with having more users, whether or not it is viable will become more clear. For now, however, Abeg appears to be a startup with uncapped potential.