Clixpesa Is Bringing Traditional Kenyan Investing Techniques to Web3

This Web3athon project aims to simplify payments in Africa and bring a regional community investment tool, called a Chama, to crypto.

AccessTimeIconOct 14, 2022 at 6:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 29, 2023 at 11:51 a.m. UTC
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Derrick Kachisa and Samuel Moyi, full-stack developers from Kericho in Kenya, noticed that locals didn't have access to the information about traditional finance they needed to invest wisely. So they founded Clixpesa, a payments app that wants to simplify finance.

Clixpesa is developing easy-to-understand financial tools for savings, loans and insurance, co-founder Kachisa said in an interview. The app will have elements of Venmo and Web3, enabling peer-to-peer payments and loans as well as interest-bearing savings accounts.

Clixpesa is a finalist in CoinDesk's Web3athon. The winners are announced at the I.D.E.A.S. conference Oct. 18 and 19.

"When we look at the financial products that are offered now, such as loans, savings, and insurance, these things are complicated since traditional financial institutions are creating them," Kachisa said. "The Kenyan community is deterred from these services because they aren't being explained or implemented in a simplified way that a normal person can understand."

Up to this point the team of two has been developing Clixpesa in their spare time, with no funding. As participants in Web3athon (a joint CRADL and CoinDesk effort to support community-oriented crypto projects), Kachisa and Moyi are aiming to have a minimum viable product by the end of the year to test on their local community. At this point, they'll consider how to source funding.

The project’s name is derived from one of the most successful peer to peer but non-crypto payments systems called M-PESA. M-PESA simplified digital transactions in Kenya but has yet to provide more complex financial tools.

The first product Clixpesa developed is a digitized version of a Kenyan community-saving tool called a Chama – more traditionally known as a ROSCA, or rotating savings and credit association.

When a community member has something he needs a lot of capital for, like medication, his peers will come together to save up collectively. Once the target is hit, the person will receive their money and the Chama will start saving for the next person until everyone’s needs are met.

This is a great way to raise money within a community, but it has issues, Kachisa said. First, once someone has received money from the Chama they could simply leave and never contribute again. Second, who do you trust to hold the funds? Once again, that person could simply leave with all of the money.

Clixpesa aims to fix these issues by bringing this cooperative saving technique to Web3. Instead of cash, people can use M-PESA or any of Clixpesa’s other payment options. And instead of a person holding the Chama’s funds, it’s a smart contract.

The funds will be released when at least three participants authorize the transaction – creating a trustless Chama fund storage system. In time, Clixpesa will also release a trustless payment system, group insurance fund and implementation for third-party services.

However, there is still the issue of someone leaving after receiving their payment. Clixpesa tries to fix this by tackling the reasons why someone may leave. As a result, users are able to skip and break down payments into smaller contributions.

This first stage of development was completed during the Web3athon, which will announce winners of the six month-long hackathon at the upcoming I.D.E.A.S. conference. The project will enter its second stage of development at the Celo’s Mobile Hackathon.

Clixpesa's second product will allow Chamas to lend their funds to others for a small amount of interest. This allows Chamas to grow their funds but also makes it easier for regular Kenyans to get loans.

"In Kenya lending is very costly. The APY on loans is in the 200 percentile," Kachisa said. "That's why we want to use peer-to-peer so we're able to lower the interest for normal users."

As a long-term goal, Kachisa and Moyi want to bring investing in stocks and crypto to Kenya. In the medium term, it’s all about making their Chamas service as frictionless as possible – bringing a traditional investing technique to Web3.


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Ryan S. Gladwin

Ryan S. Gladwin is a freelance writer from the U.K. who has written articles for The Verge, Fortune, and Business Insider.