India emerged at the top for the number of finance apps downloads in 2020. Bangalore-based fintech ‘Jar’ is one of the more recent startups, offering Indians a financial investment opportunity through their unique app. Launched in May 2021, the so-called ‘digital piggy bank helps people save money by taking spare change from their online transactions and automatically investing it in digital gold. Jar aims to introduce the new generation to start saving young. The app that works as a holistic platform helps people achieve financial wellbeing via three services—access to meaningful savings and investments, credit, and insurance.
The Jar app was started by Nishchay AG, former director and founding member at mobility startup Bounce, and Misbah Ashraf, founder of community-focused eCommerce platform Marsplay (acquired by Foxy in 2020). While Bounce and Marsplay were engaging for a collaboration, the duo hit upon another totally different idea – start an app centering around savings and investments. These minds gave birth to the idea – Jar
While heading monetization at Bounce, Nishchay was already dreaming of an app that would go beyond opening a bank account and UPI-based transactions. According to Nischay, “Financial services offered by startups are still restricted to the creamy layer. Fewer than 30 million people are investing in stock markets, mutual funds, etc; the rest are underserved. We wanted to build a platform for a larger population and get them to start saving early. There is still a huge gap between the first rupee earned and invested.”
On the other hand, Misbah hailing from Bihar, whose family was already in a never-ending debt due to poor financial planning, realized the importance of making savings at an early stage in life. According to Misbah, “Nishchay and I come from middle-class families where financial literacy is limited. The common thread among all these families is their trust in gold as an asset class, and we aim to leverage the same through our platform.”
How the ‘Jar’ works
Jar offers a simplified process for users to sign-up for the app in less than a minute.
It offers three options to save money—round-ups, recurring payments, and one-time investment—then invests that money in digital gold.
Round-ups: Users can use the app feature that accrues small sums of money each time they make a transaction. For instance, if a user has spent Rs 17 on an online transaction (which the Jar app can spot by looking at the SMSs), the app rounds up that money to the nearest 10th — which is Rs 20 in this case and invests the difference (Rs 3).
Recurring payments: Through Paytm, users can commit to investing regularly any amount starting from Re 1.
One-time savings: The user can assign a single lump sum saving through the platform.
Once users have saved some money in the Jar, the app then invests that into digital gold.
The 10-member Jar team has partnered with the digital gold platform SafeGold and earns a commission from the investments. It is also the first to use UPI 2.0’s recurring payment support.
Growing up fast
The Jar app was registered at the end of January 2021. Then within the next seven weeks, the Beta version of the app got launched. By March, the app managed to raise USD 500,000 from friends and family as seed capital. Finally, in May 2021, the Android version of the app was made public.
Today the startup is partnering with gig economy workers, women empowerment organizations, and corporates to offer this platform to their employees to start their journey of saving and investment. The app has already reached around 0.5 million users and is rapidly growing. Also, the iOS version is underway.
The platform has recently raised $4.5 million from Arkam Ventures, Tribe Capital, WEH Ventures, and several angel investors, including Kunal Shah (Founder, CRED), Shaan Puri (Senior Director of Product, Mobile Gaming & Emerging Markets at Twitch), Manik Gupta (ex-CPO, Uber and Co-founder of San-Francisco-based CVKey), and Ali Moiz (Founder at US-based Streamlabs, Peanut Labs Media and Stonks Inc).
Several financial apps are targeting the younger generation in the Indian market. But Jar stands out among them because it uses gold as an investment option which Indians have been trusting for generations. While other investments offer higher returns and liquidity, Jar helps to fulfill a basic need for long-term savings and building a good emergency corpus starting young.
“We have gamified the experience. You may be bad with budgeting or have no knowledge about money. We automate savings as a behaviour and help users build a corpus over a period of time,” the founders say.