Product Analysis: Bamboo

Product Analysis: Bamboo

So, I spent a good part of my time last week driving, and some hours sitting in an auto shop with a panel beater I am strongly convinced did not know what he was doing.

Nobody paid me to drive around, we have a church program this week (#5NOG2021), and I’ve been helping my pastor get one or two things organized. The major question isn’t necessarily how much I would have gotten paid if I decided to charge for the time I was spending running around, the major question is what was happening while I was running around.

Last week alone, IRIDEX Corporation (IRIX:NASDAQ) – a company that deals with the design and manufacturing of laser based medical services for the ophthalmology market had a stock spike of around 113%. In other words, if I had put N100,000 into IRIDEX stock last week Monday, I would have had an extra N113,000 in profits by now without having to do anything.

In contrast, Bitcoin (holy Bitcoin) shed around 8.6% of its value this week alone.

The stock market (especially the NYSE) is one of the easiest and safest mediums for wealth creation in this generation.

One of the products that help Nigerians tap into this market opportunity to invest in foreign stocks and commodities is Bamboo.

Market Analysis

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs lists physiological needs (food, water and shelter) as one of the most important needs of humans, and as much as there is a lot of truth in that, there may be a caveat.

One of the most important and well distributed human needs (for both the rich and poor) is the need to make more money. Data proves this – Wall Street alone; an eight block long street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City (and the home of capitalism, greed, and making money fast (ask Elon)) is worth more than US$30 trn. Compared to the global food industry which as at 2018 was worth around US$8.7 trn, it is clear that either the urge to make more money is a stronger motivation than eating breakfast, or we are not putting our money where our mouth is.

The urge isn’t just to make more money, but to make more money without actively working.

The common understanding is that more money brings more happiness, and although this may or may not be true, the fact still remains that most people would prefer to cry in a Lamborghini, than to cry on a bicycle.

Selling the dream of making more money (especially from passive income), and being able to control your time to do what you like is a skill that most Ponzi Scheme and MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) operators have mastered and applied countless of times to create and extract enormous value for themselves.

Bamboo helps Nigerians tap into this market by offering a trading platform that allows the average Nigerian buy stocks from foreign based companies, and profit off their growth. 

Value Proposition

Bamboo’s value proposition is built around helping Nigerians conveniently invest in foreign stocks and commodities from Nigeria with the comfort of their mobile devices.

Experiences

If you read my articles a lot, you’ll realize that I’m an experience person. I believe strongly that the best products are not products that utilize advanced and high class technology, but products that seek to make their user interaction and experience better. User interaction and experience isn’t just about UI/UX design or Front End Development, it encompasses every interaction point in which consumers interact with your product.

The better the experience of your product, the better the product, and if marketed well – the better its adoption.

Bitcoin is the leading investment instrument for a very good number of Nigerians today. Bitcoin’s use case is more than just as an investment product, but also a way to circumvent an erstwhile horrible remittance process.

Today instead of paying fee’s to money remittance services to send money to Nigeria, you can effectively buy Bitcoin with your money in the country you reside, send the Bitcoin to the receiver in Nigeria who can then convert it to Naira that can be used for local transactions.

This process effectively cuts out the middle man in the money remittance industry, and is likely the future of remittances.

If you’re a business in the money remittance space, and you aren’t paying serious attention to Bitcoin, you’re doing so at your own peril.

The Nigerian Naira’s relative instability makes storing legal tender in Bitcoin, or other denominations a no brainer.

Bitcoin’s key selling point is ease.

You don’t necessarily have to understand how the cryptocurrency market works (most people don’t), you don’t have to monitor any special indices or know how to interpret data points and models, you just have to buy, store in a wallet, and watch the price go up.

Bitcoin’s ease of experience makes it a no brainer. Nigeria is presently the second largest Bitcoin market by volume, trailing only the United States, and trading more than US$451 million in 2020 alone.

At US$451 million, the amount of Bitcoin traded in Nigeria alone is worth more than the market caps of Fidelity Bank, Wema Bank, and Sterling Bank combined!

Forex is another very active investment instrument traded by ordinary Nigerians. According to DailyFx (a Forex research firm), Nigerians trade an average of US$1.25 million daily. This figure culminates into around US$450 million a year, enough to buy Julius Berger, Transcorp Holdings, and a significant stake in a Nigerian oil well.

Trading Forex is usually more complicated than trading Bitcoin. Forex trading usually requires some kind of analysis and market timing. Not everyone has the time or brain power to study and learn these things (someone literally told me he tried to learn Forex, and it refused to enter his head), therefore outsourcing has become the order of the day. It is very common to find people doling out money to third parties to invest on their behalf, and give them some kind of financial reimbursement monthly (or weekly).

Trading stocks is however a more complex issue. The underlying desire is to make money, how that money is made (as long as it isn’t illegal) is usually not a serious concern to anyone.

Minus all the terms you’ll have to learn (p/e ratio, CAGR, etc.), Investing in the stock market requires some degree of financial literacy, political savvy, observation and a keen eye for understanding business – most of which a majority of people do not have, and most of which a majority of people are not interested in getting – their major concern is profits. How you make those profits is your business.

Trading foreign stocks still feels like a niche industry to me. And it is.

Paxful alone, a global cryptocurrency trading platform alludes to having around 1.3 million Nigerians trading Bitcoin, and a host of other cryptocurrencies on its platform.

According to FinanceMagnates.com, there are about 300,000 Forex traders in Nigeria alone, some estimates put this number as close to 2 million.

Excluding Robinhood, the four most prominent startups in the foreign stock investment field in Nigeria; Bamboo, Chaka, Rise, and Trove have combined Google Play store downloads of around 160,000 between them. Considering the fact that some users may overlap providers, and not everyone who downloads the app will actually use it, the number of real users is likely less than this.

Anyone who chooses or has an interest in investing in foreign stocks will usually have an above average level of knowledge on businesses and how they work. People like this are not very common.

Competitive Structure

China’s CNBM, the third largest cement producer in the world produces 176.22 million tons of cement per year, and has a cement production capacity of 406 million tons per year, almost 10 times more than Dangote Cement’s production capacity. As much as both companies offer the same value proposition (cement), they both do not directly compete with each other.

Alibaba’s AliPay and Flutterwave have similar value propositions, yet the both of them do not directly compete with each other.

Technology has created a systemized and digital structure where two businesses with the same value proposition can compete with each other even if they dwell in different geographies.

Anybody building a social media application today is directly competing with Facebook, regardless of their geographical location (people could either choose Facebook, or choose your product).

Anybody building a search engine solution today is directly competing with Google regardless of their geographical location (people could either choose Google or choose your product).

Anybody building an E-learning solution today that requires zero to minimal physical and real world interactions, and doesn’t offer institutionally recognized courses is competing with Coursera, edX, Udemy and the likes.

When it comes to competition, you definitely don’t want to be in a place where people really have to choose between your product and Google (they will choose Google), and so it’s in your best interest to always have some kind of differentiating factor that allows you take advantage of your local presence to birth a new value proposition.

Some of the courses being offered at Utiva can be found (or replicated) on Coursera, but the physical community and hands on experience is extremely difficult to reproduce by just sitting behind a screen.

The first time I heard of foreign stock trading was from Robinhood. Robinhood allows American retail investors have on demand access to a huge array of investment instruments both US based and in other foreign markets and although Robinhood’s business model may not necessarily be similar to Bamboo’s (Robinhoods incentive is more trades so it can sell them to market makers for rebates), they both directly compete, because whether you like it or not, as we speak (or as I write), there is a potential Bamboo customer shorting Tesla’s stock on Robinhood’s platform.

Bamboo’s reply to competition is investing in its community – which in itself is a defensive moat and one of the smartest ways to ward off competition. Go and make your own exercise bike, and see if you can outsell Peleton. Peleton’s community and cult following makes it extremely difficult to disrupt them – it’s usually not always about cash, but brand loyalty.

I saw tweets from Bamboo giving out Bamboo branded shirts to its customers some days back. That is an extremely smart thing to do. Move from being just ‘a platform that helps me trade’ which is a commodity identity to a member of the family ‘I share in your success’.

Final thoughts

I like Bamboo (I’m bias – I like trading stocks), but Bamboo still feels like a niche product. The ideal Bamboo user is not really the average Nigerian.

This isn’t really a bad thing (depending on the business model you employ), but as a B2C business, scale is extremely important – especially to a business like Bamboo.

Nobody is passionate about losing money (are you?).

Going forward, I would suggest Bamboo tries to remove the knowledge layer in its user interaction by building its own on platform hedge fund (I don’t know what the regulatory framework behind this says).

This could allow people who want to make more money (the majority of people), use or patronize its platform without needing to directly overcome the knowledge layer (learning how the market works).

Total addressable market size will likely go up, allowing Bamboo access to more users, and more data it can use to maybe redesign a new business model going forward.

A hedge fund system offers their users a minimum amount of returns per a specified time frame, and allows Bamboo keep 20% of all profits from trades.

The same solution could be scaled to savings apps to power the back end that takes users money and helps them to save and invest while putting an interest on their principal sum.

If your strength is in investing, why not make the most of it.

Conclusion

Bamboo is a phenomenal product that seeks to open up the Nigerian populace to the global investment market.

Bamboo as a product has the potential to revolutionize how Nigerians invest, and therefore create more sources of wealth for more people.

 

 Inspired by the Holy Spirit

 

P.S1: to talk more about strategy, or for consultation services, you can shoot me a message on here, or send a mail to [email protected]

P.S2: if you found this piece valuable, you can follow this link to donate to the author https://www.paylink.ng/maroelias

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