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Tech talk: Who wants to be a millionaire?

Updated December 23, 2018

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Co-founder Veqar is betting on Hysab Kytab to be the ultimate portal for all your local needs — a hyperlocal marketplace of sorts.
Co-founder Veqar is betting on Hysab Kytab to be the ultimate portal for all your local needs — a hyperlocal marketplace of sorts.

Do you dread checking your bank balance because you don’t want to come to terms with all the useless expenses you have made?

Yeah, me too.

Won’t you like a tool to help you budget better? Let me introduce Hysab Kytab, a Karachi-based startup that helps you track your finances.

How does it work? Download the app, sign up and start recording your inflows and outflows. There are two tap-ons for income and expenses, with each having its own categories such as investment, commission or groceries, utilities. All you have to do is enter respective amounts for a given period and it will keep track of all the transactions.

You can also set saving goals, create accounts to record balance of different banks or activate travel mode where you can choose the country you are going to along with its currency so all the transactions are automatically converted into the rupee.

A simple data entry app for your finances is perhaps not the fanciest thing out there. We already have the good old pen and paper after all, right? “The problem with pen and paper is you eventually lose them and lose record; I have run out of three diaries just this year,” co-founder Abdul Haseeb wittily replies. So yeah, let’s be a bit more contemporary here.

Within the personal finance tech space, there are plenty of apps offering similar services. Take Mint or You Need A Budget — two US-based giants — for example, which have been in the business for over a decade and let you do pretty much the same things as Hysab Kytab. So how does the startup plan to navigate its way through, especially if it’s a relatively geography agnostic industry?

“While there are a few big companies, the overall market is still largely underserved so there’s definitely room for more players like us. Plus most have restricted themselves to personal finance, which is not our idea. We want to move beyond budgeting and make it the go-to app for all your local needs, such as connecting to the neighbourhood sabziwala,” Hysab Kytab co-founder Veqarul Islam says. And for this, they are already adding a marketplace feature which will have online stores and other retailers to start with.

Though Pakistan is the focus for now, Veqar doesn’t want to be limited to any geography. “We want to test our product and model here and then hopefully expand to regional markets,” he says. “Everyone in the Middle East and South Asia can get a fair idea about what we do just by seeing our name, so we hope that’d help us grab a share as well,” Haseeb adds.

Hysab Kytab is a brainchild of Jaffer Business Systems, an established IT company, marking a shift in its corporate strategy to venture into more innovative tech. “Given the pace tech is moving at, we had to change our focus so we acquired a data analytics company as a first step,” Veqar tells Dawn. “We initially wanted to develop an enterprise resource planning software for SMEs but then decided to enter the consumer market instead, as it has the most juice,” he adds.

So far the product is free for consumers and Veqar hopes to keep it as such, at least in its current form. “When our marketplace kicks off, we will charge the vendors while for consumers, the app — as it is now — is gonna stay free but for the premium features, there will be an additional cost,” he says. “We have recently hired country innovation head who has to finalise the monetisation scheme by June 2019,” Veqar adds.

Doesn’t sound too convincing after all to subject your entire business model to a future success, right?

Well, that’s not entirely the case here. Veqar and co are betting on data to be their cash cow. All the users adding what their monthly income is, where it mostly goes and what they want to save up for. But that requires time and data points to refine algorithms, and once that happens, Hysab Kytab will venture into targeted marketing and external analytics services.

And as a data-centric startup, what exactly is their data policy? “We have an upcoming data review for our privacy policy, terms and conditions among other things which would then be audited by a third party,” Veqar says, adding “we can offer business intelligence services to different firms using real consumer expenditure data acquired through our app - such as how much consumers on an average spend on groceries. But individual user data will only stay with us.”

Since the app’s release a few months ago (beta version came out this October), they have already had around 200,000 downloads. But that’s probably not the most suitable metric here since it’s the customer engagement that matters, not the one-time downloads. And there, Hysab Kytab is hitting over 350,000 monthly transactions now.

Let’s see if this app can help me save up for a long-planned Pakistan tour, and only then I shall become a believer. Otherwise, it’s pen and paper for me.

The writer is member of staff:

m.mutaherkhan@gmail.com

Twitter: @MutaherKhan

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2018

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