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Interview with Samwel Kiraka, CEO EGM Securities

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Mr Samwel Kiraka, CEO EGM Securities. FILE PHOTO | NMG

It’s been a year since the launch of FXPesa in Kenya, why did EGM Securities introduce FXPesa and what have you achieved since it was launched a year ago?

EGM Securities launched as a start-up in Nairobi, Kenya as part of the Equiti Global Markets Group in the middle of 2018 with the objective of providing an alternative avenue to investment opportunities for Kenyans in a regulated environment. Soon after we started our business operations, we realized the large and growing demand from Kenyans to trade online currencies, CFDs, single stocks, commodities, global indices and precious metals away from the traditional investment classes so we created an offshoot called FXPesa.

FXPesa is a simplified mobile application that facilitates a smooth trading experience for traders of all levels. This means that traders can trade the global markets on-the-go, 24 hours a day 5 days a week. It is only a year ago since the launch of FXPesa, but with all the interest and trading volumes we have experienced and training we’ve conducted, it feels like a decade ago.

We are proud to have grown the business in the country, which means, we have tripled our staff complement to support the number of growing clients. This growth also meant that we had to expand our physical reach and presence in Kenya and therefore set up an office in Nakuru earlier this year offering training and client support.

What led to the phenomenal success of FXPesa in Kenya?
FXPesa is simply trading using an online (internet) or mobile app so trades can be made anytime and anywhere, even on-the-go, in the taxi, during lunch breaks, in the evening at home in front of TV. It’s convenience for users has been one of the big success factors. In addition, it’s simple to register and easy to use and provides users with easy access to their money, both deposits and withdrawals.

FXPesa was designed specifically for Kenyans with their mobile lifestyle and needs in mind, using mobile money and mobile service providers that we all know, such as MPesa by Safaricom and Airtel Money by Airtel. There is no need to go to a bank to withdraw money and stand in queues or in ATM lines.

Kenyans appreciate having access to global markets with the ease of access on their mobile phone. FXPesa is something that Kenyans can relate to and seemingly enjoy using.

Our training and education efforts have also largely contributed to our success. Of course, a year ago, most Kenyans did not know much about online foreign currency and commodity trading, or the associated risks so our company invested significantly in providing free training for all Kenyans who are keen to learn. We host ongoing workshops at our purpose made offices in Nairobi and Nakuru with frequent seminars hosted by professional trainers and renowned expert traders.

During this lockdown period we have had to change tactics and transitioned the workshops to webinars. We have hosted several of these with our local trainers and international trading experts, and so far have taken over 2,000 people through the different trainings.

We also introduced podcasts with global speakers talking about aspects of the markets, indices, industries or commodities and companies to help FXPesa traders make smart trades that generate profitable results. We teach our users how to be successful, how to manage their risks, and how to improve their ability to make money from their trades.

How has the Pandemic and lockdown affected FXPesa?
Surprisingly FXPesa has delivered pleasing results during the lockdown. While Kenyans have been at home for the past two or so months, they have had time to learn new skills and we have seen an uptake in people signing up to try their hand and skills at trading on FXPesa. We have seen many Kenyans learning about forex trading during the lockdown period and attending our webinars, which has increased the traffic of users and number of transactions.

The lockdown period has delivered the ‘cherry-on-the-cake’ for us on our first-year anniversary after 12 months of solid and steady growth.

With the growing level of unemployment due to the pandemic, people are looking for alternative income. We have seen trading through FXPesa bridging the gap during unemployment or serve as an additional or even as a main source of income.

Where do you see the future growth of FXPesa over the next year?
Many young executives and tech savvy youth including college and university students have started online trading with FXPesa as a way of earning extra money to support themselves during their student years and have become active traders.

Interestingly, we see growth in small communities of three or four people competing against each other on how much they have made on their trades, for example, groups in hostels, on university campuses and chamas. Also, traders are teaching each other to trade which generates interest and further growth.

We are continually growing through our valuable partners in other areas in Kenya and beyond.

We are grateful to the Capital Markets Authority for their well-appreciated support and guidance during our launch and subsequently through our operation and for their immensely valuable role in overseeing a high standard of regulatory controls in Kenya.

FXPesa is delighted to share our first anniversary in Kenya with all Kenyans and Regional partners and thank everyone for their continued support even during these unprecedented times following the Covid-19 global pandemic. We look forward a great future for the young industry in the region and especially all our FXPesa users, both current and future.