Dutch startup Bux is on a mission to open stock trading to a much larger market — namely, those who have never traded before. Its casual trading app for iOS and Android attempts to gamify trading (as if it wasn’t gamified enough already) by letting traders start off with virtual currency before investing with real money, as well as compete with friends.
That mission has seen the Amsterdam and London-based company pick up $1.9 million in further funding. Perhaps apt, leading the round is Silicon Valley and London’s Initial Capital, which has previously invested in the likes of Glu Mobile, Playfish and Supercell. In other words, a games not traditional fintech investor.
“There are many similarities between games and trading,” Bux CEO and co-founder Nick Bortot tells me. “Everywhere around the world, 24 hours a day, there are individuals at home or professionals in dealing rooms buying and selling stocks. Not a single day is the same and there’s a lot of tactics, and strategies involved. I would say that the stock markets are the best game on earth!”
Based on this assumption, Bortot made the decision not to hire a bunch of ex-bankers and brokers, but developers and others with a games background.
“We may be a financial services company, but only three out of the 20 full time staff have a financial background. Together we set-out to re-invent online trading with a great gamified trading app, making trading incredibly easy and above all, great fun,” he says.
The result is an app and brand that places “games mechanics on top of trading” in an attempt to make stock trading accessible to anyone, in contrast to the existing self-directed trading market that Bortot argues remains a niche one.
Specifically he says that trading platforms “throw new customers to the wolves,” whereas online games “take users by the hand” and gradually move them to the next level.
“From my 15 years of experience of the online brokerage market, I knew that the financial markets have a huge appeal to a variety of people. But, these people don’t start trading however, because current platforms and apps are way too complicated, full of complex charts, lots of jargon and blinking lights, it really scares people off. My belief is that the market which is not served, is at least five times larger than the current market.”
That belief appears to be warranted. The startup says that in 12 months since launch it has signed up 200,000 users, of which 79 per cent had little or no trading experience before joining Bux. More significantly, 12,000 users have opened a real money account, while users have traded £1.2 billion in transaction value.