One of the co-founders of the popular Oxford start-up Cashew has denied longstanding rumours that the company has gone bankrupt.
Cashew, a mobile app that enables users to send money from their debit card to another user’s account, can be used as a payment method in various Oxford shops and retailers, and expanded to other UK universities during Hilary term.
The expansion meant that the company have been incurring huge fees processing payments.
Despite introducing an ‘instant pay’ mechanism to curb these issues, Cashew wasn’t able to make enough revenue, meaning that the company had begun to run out of money.
In response, the app was removed from the Apple App Store for a short period.
Speaking exclusively to Cherwell, David Hsu, one of the co-founders of Cashew, insisted that the problems are only short term.
“We are a small team and we had to focus all of our efforts on raising money over Easter so that really affected our ability to perform timely withdrawals,” he said.
“We can only apologise to our users for all the inconvenience this must have caused.
“We have hired a team to help out with withdrawals and support messages so everything is back on track. And we’ve also switched to a different bank so withdrawals are faster and more reliable.”
Hsu, who has recently returned from a funding round in Silicon Valley, insisted that the company were in a “very strong position”, and have learned from their past mistakes.
In January, Cashew was caught up in a controversial payment debacle involving kebab vans in Oxford.
It was reported that students had been accidentally paying Hussein through the payments app for post-club kebabs bought from Broad Street’s kebab van, Hassan’s.
Hassan discovered that his customers had been misspelling or simply mistaking his name for that of a rival.
Mr. Hsu said that his team had made improvements to the system.
“In order to minimise costs, we have introduced a top-up system, so rather than us taking small amounts of money from your bank every time you want to pay, you can easily top up a bulk amount,” he said.
Wulfie Bain, President of Oxford University Athletic Football Club (OUAFC), said that the club were relieved to have Cashew as a payment method again: “When rumours spread that Cashew had gone bankrupt, OUAFC withdrew its funds from the app, just as many other people did.
“However, we’ve kept using the app and are delighted to hear that it’s back. At OUAFC we use it for everything, from subs payments to repaying players for transport. It makes my life a lot easier, enabling me to chase up late payments with the request function .”
Mr Bain added: “Every great startup has a few bumps in the road, so hopefully it’s only up for Cashew from here!”
However, not all Cashew users believe that the app can still be a success.
Jack Drury, a finalist at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, told Cherwell: “I was always taught that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
“Cashew initially seemed brilliant: free money, great interface, no charges, instant payouts. But difficulties soon emerged.
“A friend was unable to withdraw over £100 for several days despite paying for the guaranteed immediate service.
“It was impossible to get in touch with Cashew: a phone number I had been given had no response, and the in-app help was also non-responsive.”
“I managed to get in touch with the owner on Facebook via a mutual friend and the payment soon went through,” he added.
“The lack of ability to withdraw the money meant I paid my friend twice so the event could go ahead. Cashew is easy to use, but the problems getting hold of money mean I’ll be sticking to bank transfers, and others say the same.”
But Mr. Hsu told Cherwell that Cashew was here to stay.
“In 2019, there’s new regulation coming out, and that’ll allow apps like Cashew to hook into your bank account and directly debit the money, without any fees,” he said.
“Once that hits, we’ll be able to process money without any fees, and we’ll sell our mobile payments solution to coffee shops and other small merchants, and charge a much lower fee than debit cards do.
“I don’t think we’ll seriously be using debit cards 20 years from now, and hopefully Cashew will be the replacement.”