Bamboo believes its user-friendly, micro-investment and savings application (app) is a way to make crypto investment easier and less scary for consumers.
In a few weeks, the company, which has focused strictly on the Australian market throughout its four-year history and has about 70,000 downloads, will make the Bamboo app available in the U.S.
Bamboo is one of eight finalists in the Web 3 Pitch Fest, a hackathon hosted by Extreme Tech Challenge at CoinDesk’s Consensus Festival this week.
Bamboo CEO Blake Cassidy said the huge American crypto market was a logical next step. The current bearish atmosphere may even offer an opportunity to convert increasingly risk-averse investors by enabling them to accrue digital assets safely in small increments. He said the app had already generated tens of thousands of U.S. inquiries, a reflection of its simple interface and clear aims.
“You don’t come to the app and interface with charts and order books and sophisticated tools like leveraged trading,” Cassidy told CoinDesk. “It’s crypto with bumpers. We’re setting up people for success.”
The app operates on the assumption that crypto investment is daunting for most people, who are cowed by its volatility and potential losses. Bamboo allows users to make small cryptocurrency investments by rounding off retail transactions to even dollar amounts above what they paid. It’s similar to the model that some charities have adopted in partnership with retailers.
For example, you can invest just a quarter in crypto by rounding the $2.75 you pay for a cup of coffee to $3. Bamboo also offers the option to invest significantly more, up to $20,000 a day, or via weekly installments, although Cassidy noted the company is not an exchange but rather “focused on being a savings app.”
“So many people are interested in the sector but they can’t stand the risks,” he said. “So giving people an easy-to-use product to invest their spare change is a great way for them to learn before they invest further.”
Bamboo earns money through fees ranging from 0.8% for transactions above $300 to 2.5% on a sliding scale below that threshold. The smaller the transaction, the larger the fee. A closed-loop system ensures that users can’t withdraw their crypto from the platform but rather must sell it into a linked bank account.
The company was the brainchild of four Australia-based developers who founded Bamboo in 2018. (The name is a playful swipe at the micro-investment app Acorns – in that “bamboo grows faster than acorns,” Cassidy said.) Two years later, Cassidy, who had been working in various blockchain roles and was an early investor, became part of a purchasing group that paid an undisclosed sum. “We just thought there was a market need,” he said.
Since then, Bamboo has raised $3.5 million in seed funding and expanded its workforce to 25 people, spread over Asia, Europe, Australia and the U.S. (Bamboo has registered as a holding company in Australia.) About half are developers with the remainder in marketing and financial operations roles. Cassidy hopes to close the next capital round this year via venture firms and strategic investors who see value in products that create favorable user experiences.
“We’re helping users invest sustainably over time so they can help achieve their medium- and long-range goals,” he said. “We’re very much a savings app built for people.”