Egypt's fakka problem is like a phantom that hovers on top of every purchase that occurs. Loose change piles up on our dressers, in our cars, and in the pockets of our coats, but never in the hands of the clerk that is selling you candy bars, who usually turn to chewing gum as a way to return your change. Seeking to counter this practice, Egyptian entrepreneurs Mahmoud Zohair and Mohamed Tawakol set off to research cash transactions in Egypt. “We found out that literally 1 percent - and that is a generous number - of the general public prefers to use electronic cards over physical cash in payment,” says Zohair, co-founder and CEO of Spare. A country that loves physical currency so much is destined to have a permanent change problem.

The benefits of going cash-free are endless, from preventing theft to adding convenience when it comes to finding change. Less obvious benefits are that physical currency acts as a medium for bacteria and deteriorates over time, while a virtual wallet enjoys the robustness since the currency in it will never deteriorate over time.

 

Spare co-founders Mahmoud Zohair and Mohamed Tawakol. 

The entrepreneurs then decided to design and build a platform that enables loose change from different shops to pile up into an account that sits on their application - an alternative payment method. This way, the need for fakka is eliminated from its roots, as the application can simply act like a virtual wallet, handling all transactions between shops, and adding credit or subtracting it at the will of the user. Not only is the application used to add loose change, but individual accounts can be recharged at any shop that is Spare-enabled, just like a regular physical wallet.

Aside from acting like a virtual wallet, the platform enables online purchases from within the application itself, so you could go from paying for your daily dose of caffeine to paying your monthly Netflix subscription all from within the same app. Set to launch in beta by the end of Ramadan, the app will see the light at a closed event at the American University in Cairo. “We have high hopes towards our app, and we hope to make the entire campus cash free by the end of next semester” Said Zohair.

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Main photo by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.

Photographer: Ahmed Zaher.