Easy Equities’ Charles Savage on R150m capital raise; Cy Jacobs; the Philippines; and more

Purple Capital, the JSE listed 70% owner of EasyEquities, reported a R50m bottom line reverse in the half year to end February – and also dropped the surprise of a R150m capital raising exercise. However, the news was absorbed well enough by an already cautious investment market – the shares are down by half in the past year – offset perhaps by the excitement of the group’s venture into the Philippines. CEO Charles Savage shares the latest on SA’s exponentially growing company (830k active clients, +24%) with Alec Hogg of BizNews.

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Read more: Back home with an Asian partnership in his pocket, Purple CEO Charles Savage tells us about the next big leap in the EasyEquities adventure

Excerpts from the interview

Charles Savage on EasyEquities’ growth despite challenges and their aspirations to grow more

I think when you reflect on what we’ve achieved in South Africa, the scorecard is strong and especially in terms of what we’ve achieved with our brand, our customer base and the platform, we’re actually more critical of our successes. For a long time now, we’ve known that we’ve got something that is better than just being a good South African business [but] we’ve failed to demonstrate evidence [of] our capability outside of South Africa, so for me, I’m critical of that especially when we find ourselves in the current economic environment [where] the world gets a recession and [South Africa] gets a double recession. We’ve just got a whole lot of economic factors that just [make it] much more difficult for the consumer to consume. And so it would have helped us a lot in a period like this to have customers from all around the world. And so now it’s becoming more urgent, because whilst I think the rest of the world will get back to business quickly – and we’ve really started to see it in earnings coming out of the US where they’re doing better than expected – I think South Africa’s going to have a difficult time for a lot longer because of [issues like] Eskom [which is just] one excuse but [there are] lots of others [like] politics getting in the way of lots of economic growth and prospects here. So I’m critical of the business we’ve done. We’ve had a great South African success story, but it is time to prove it now on the global stage.

Read more: CEO Charles Savage says EasyEquities eyeing World #1 title despite Fintech entering ‘recession mode’

On partnering with GCash in the Philippines and launching a fantasy investment game

In South Africa we launched with a game to 2000 people and in the results about 60% of those people converted, and one year later we had 10,000 customers. But it was a great way to understand the markets better, and specifically the expected behaviour of investors in that market. So it’s a great way to test your platforms and test your approach. So this runway through GCash gives us access to 70 million Filipinos. We expect that a couple of hundred thousand will join us in the game. It’s a six week game and we’ll learn a lot from it. Then we will launch live, post-the-game. And I think we’ll replicate our success that we’ve had in South Africa, but just [by] multiples of it. I mean when we launched [in South Africa] we only had 2000 game players, but thousands [more will] play this game.

Read more: How EasyEquities was born – insights from Charles Savage