Ex-head of digital innovation of Discovery Health, Dr Thomas Brennan, is helping stokvels gain access investment opportunities with the launch of Franc, an investment platform which gives stokvel members access to the money market and an exchange traded fund via their mobile phones.
Says Brennan, “Stokvel members simply choose how much they would like to invest, how often and how they would like to split their investment. They can choose between the lower-risk Allan Gray Money Market Fund or the higher risk Satrix 40 ETF, or a combination of the two.”
Access to Franc is free for the first six months; thereafter the membership fee is R5 per month. But members can get another six months free for every friend they invite who becomes a member in the first free six months. Besides the membership fee, there are no other fees or deductions.
“We are excited about bringing Franc to SA consumers for the first time during Savings Month,” says Dr Thomas Brennan, founder of Franc, and ex-head of digital innovation of Discovery Health. “South Africa has one of the lowest savings rates in the world: for the vast majority of South Africans, accessing investment opportunities is expensive and difficult. This is something that we want to change with Franc, which is now the most affordable way to access the money market and exchange traded funds.”
To FICA stokvel members have to provide their ID number, upload proof of ID and proof of address, take a selfie. Because Franc is a stokvel, you need to be invited to join.
Franc is a member of AlphaCode, the fintech investment arm of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings. Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode comments, “What we find most interesting about Franc is how Brennan has adapted a large global fintech business model like Robinhood for the local nuances of the South African market. Combining technology, user experience, low cost and traditional savings methods like a stokvel is smart and we believe that Franc will impact the market.”
The Franc team comprises eight professionals who have backgrounds in machine learning, software development, smart contracts, compliance, legal, investment and actuarial science.