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This app teaching teens investment is backed by Zerodha’s Nithin Kamath


Husein wanted to know more as he had never invested before. Driven by curiosity, he searched for apps on his smartphone, but most apps he came across were those of brokerages, meant for adults.

When he came across ZuPay, which calls itself “India’s premier investing and learning app for teenagers” on its app page, Husein got interested. He downloaded the app.

“Initially, I was still worried as I had never heard of this app and thought this might be some kind of scam. When their team called me, I realized it was not a scam, but a genuine platform,” he recalls.

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Husein has already put his first 100 in the stock markets (investing in Yes Bank and Welspun Corp), but he is still trying to understand the basics of investing on ZuPay, and hopes to be better-informed by the time he draws his first income.

ZuPay is slowly attracting more teenagers like Husein, who want to know more about investing. “We have a feature that allows teenagers to even invest using their parents’ demat account, after they approve the trade, but we don’t want to be an investing app. We are more focused on being a learning app for teenagers,” says Anubhav Mishra, co-founder of ZuPay. Currently, ZuPay has 15,000 teen users.

The app got the backing of Zerodha co-founder Nithin Kamath’s venture capital firm Rainmatter at a very early stage. The discount broker has backed initiatives in the past focusing on financial literacy like Varsity at Zerodha and Finshots (another Rainmatter investment).

Rainmatter got involved in the last fund-raising round of ZuPay, which was led by Prime Venture Partners, a Bengaluru-based venture capital firm. In its first fund raising round, ZuPay had raised around 70,000,00 from 100X.VC, Let’sVenture and multiple angel investors.

Problem statement

Bengaluru-based graduates from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Chennai — Anubhav Mishra (25) and Arpit Jain (23) — were thinking about their next venture. Although from different streams (Mishra – chemical engineering; Jain – computer science), they had worked on several ventures and projects together at VIT, even participating in competitions together that focused on innovations.

Anubhav Mishra, 25, co-founder of ZuPay, is a chemical engineering graduate from Vellore Institute of Technology. He specializes in thinking product design and use cases.

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Anubhav Mishra, 25, co-founder of ZuPay, is a chemical engineering graduate from Vellore Institute of Technology. He specializes in thinking product design and use cases.

Their last venture was an AI and algorithm-based platform that could summarize court judgements through contextual learning, but it didn’t take off commercially.

This was sometime around last year when covid-19 was at its peak. An unexpected consequence of lockdowns was the growing popularity of stock markets.

Arpit Jain, 23, co-founder of ZuPay, is a computer science graduate from Vellore Institute of Technology. He specializes in building products and apps.

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Arpit Jain, 23, co-founder of ZuPay, is a computer science graduate from Vellore Institute of Technology. He specializes in building products and apps.

Around this time, US-based Fidelity which offers everything from brokerage, mutual funds, to retirement plans and wealth management, had launched a commission-free brokerage account for American teenagers. It was available for teens, whose parents or guardians were already Fidelity customers and could monitor this account.

Mishra and Jain picked up on the trend, and found out that there was an even larger gap when it came to financial literacy among teens in India.

Interactions with companies in financial sector cemented this belief. They realized lack of awareness was because platforms didn’t speak in the language of teens.

At the same time, they realized that Gen-Z was getting heavily exposed and influenced by financial influencers. Celeb endorsements of cryptocurrencies as an investment alternative had added to their popularity.

“We realized that Gen-Z was great when it came to price comparing for choosing products, money management. At the same time, they were getting exposed to investing ideas on social media. Every third or fourth post on Instagram is related to finance, but there is no platform to teach teens the very basic concepts of investing,” said Mishra.

That’s when Jain and Mishra thought of creating an app, which not only uncomplicates investing for teens, but also tries to make it cool, or ‘lit!’ in the Gen-Z lingo. To be sure, this was not their first brush with financial world. They had earlier built FinLit, a financial literacy platform and sold it to Fullerton India Credit Company.

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‘Meme’ business

ZuPay uses a combination of gamification, Instagram-esque stories, tasks, quizzes and live sessions to deliver content to teens. These tasks take the teen through a learning journey, which begins from the ‘Birth of Money’ chapter.

These tasks involve reading the education content on ZuPay, which is short and simple and uses examples that teens can relate to. The content material also liberally uses images, GIFs and memes to hold the attention of the teen reader.

Five-seven tasks make up a module, which is followed by a live session, a quiz and then a passing certificate.

There are quick-to-read flipcards as well that talk about difference between long-term goals and short-term, wants and needs, savings account, inflation and market volatility, among other things. These flipcards are followed by short quizes.

Live investing

Teenagers can experience live stocks markets on ZuPay in two ways. One is by joining its stock market league ‘Stock Wars’, where they can buy and sell shares of companies, but all with virtual money. ZuPay plans to offer gift vouchers to winners.

Teens can also buy an actual share, but only with the consent of their parent. If a teen wants to buy a share, he first needs to invite parent to come onto the app and link a demat account. When the teen places a buy order for a stock, a request is sent to the parent, who can then decide whether or not to buy the stock for their teen.

Food delivery company Zomato is the most popular stock on ZuPay, as just like most retail investors, teens are also attracted towards companies whose services and products they consume.

ZuPay has also integrated a ‘brands’ drop-down on each of the company’s stock page, which showcases brand names of the products offered by the company. This is more helpful for teens when they come across an FMCG company.

Teen talks

Living in the outskirts of Mumbai in Nala Sopara, Shreyansh Tiwari, 16, seems to be a trading whiz kid. He topped the ‘Stock Wars’ league on ZuPay, making 6 lakh in one day with 25,000 of virtual money.

Shreyansh Tiwari, 16, who lives in the outskirts of Mumbai, made  <span class=₹2 lakh in his first year of trading in stocks. ” title=”Shreyansh Tiwari, 16, who lives in the outskirts of Mumbai, made ₹2 lakh in his first year of trading in stocks. “>

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Shreyansh Tiwari, 16, who lives in the outskirts of Mumbai, made 2 lakh in his first year of trading in stocks.

Stock markets are not new for Tiwari. He says due to financial crisis at home, he started trading in stock markets two years back, and even made 2 lakh in his first year, which he used to buy a laptop to help with his education and even pay his college fees.

Tiwari doesn’t do day trading on stocks, but does swing trading (i.e. taking positions on stocks to make gains over few days or few weeks), based on technical chart indicators and news flow of companies.

Tiwari says if he had known about ZuPay earlier, he could have possibly earned more from stock markets. “Through the ZuPay app, one can learn how to pick stocks, what are large-caps, mid-caps and small-caps and how beginners can invest their first 100 in stock markets. It is safe and secure as it is linked with your parent’s account. I think it is a revolutionary app as teaches the very basics of investing. I have even referred the app to my friends,” he says.

Shivam Mishra, 16, who lives in Chhattisgarh, says he has learnt the concept of inflation through the app. “I understand today that inflation in India is about 7.3%. If you invest in a bank savings account, which fetches you 4% interest-rate or bank fixed deposits that offer you 5%-6%, the value of your money is going down. When you invest in stock markets, the value of your money can increase, but it can also decrease significantly,” he says.

Shivam Mishra, 16, who lives in Chhattisgarh, learnt on ZuPay the impact of inflation on returns.

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Shivam Mishra, 16, who lives in Chhattisgarh, learnt on ZuPay the impact of inflation on returns.

Mishra adds that he now very well understands what is Nifty and Sensex – the two indices that represent the top companies in the stock markets. He has also learnt how banking industry works. “Banks use the money we deposit with them to give loans to borrowers, and the interest they earn on that loan, they give a percentage of that to us; the account holders and depositors,” he summarizes.

He has also learnt what are exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Saurabh Arora, 45, who works in the capital market industry, says the ZuPay app has helped him to have lot of conversations with his 16-year-old teenage son around investing. “Just like my father helped me to understand the importance of investing, I want to do the same with my son, as this is something that would help him in his future. When he showed me this app, I looked into it and got him enrolled into a couple of courses, which he liked and did well,” Arora says.

“This has pushed him to think and even ask me questions to know more. The other day, he asked me about debt. I explained him debt is something where if you need money, banks give you that money and charge interest rate on that. As a follow-up, he asked me, then what is FD. Then I told him about bank FDs, and then I used that chain of conversation to talk to him about bank FDs vs debt mutual funds and how mutual funds are different from stocks. He also knows what ETFs are, which even conventional investors don’t about even though ETFs are now fairly-sized,” he adds.

Monika Mantri, mother of a 15-year-old, says her daughter browses through the ZuPay app in her spare time. She has learnt a few basic things about banking, debit, credit, stock markets, and is now insisting that her mother helps her open a bank account for her.

ZuPay’s future plans

Mishra says ZuPay doesn’t want to become an investing app, but a learning app and even a family fintech app later in its journey. “When you link parents with the children’s learning and investing journey, it can become a fintech app for the entire family, and a serious place. So, on the parents’ side, more investment products can be pitched, to do with children’s education, etc. Even insurance can be an offering,” he says.

“We can do this at a later stage when we have 500,000-600,000 or even a million users on our app. We could also collaborate with financial experts to come on our platform and offer specific learning modules. These modules can be priced,” he says.

According to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, there are 253 million adolescents in India in the age-group of 10-19 years. Several of these youngsters would be joining the workforce soon and getting their first salary.

“There is increased awareness among teenagers, but they often look to make quick gains. If they approach investing in a disciplined manner, once they start earning, it can help them experience the magic of compounding,” says Deepak Chhabria, chief executive officer and director, Axiom Financial Services.

Giving nudges and pushes to teenagers today on importance of investing and investing in the right way – keeping in mind inflation, long-term, short-term goals, prioritizing needs over wants, market volatility – can push them to start planning for their future goals right after they get their first salary or paycheck.

Elsewhere in Mint

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