Hong Kong-based startup 8 Securities launches in Japan; raising $5M and China expansion next steps
Following its debut at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing and its 2012 launch in Hong Kong, 8 Securities has announced the debut of its service in Japan. The consumer finance startup has its sights set on disrupting both the brokerage and asset management industries in Japan. "We believe the financial services industry has been slow to meet the rapidly changing preferences of customers. Individuals want and expect well designed, low cost and convenient investing products that can be accessed anytime and on any device", said Mikaal Abdulla, CEO and co-founder of 8 Securities. "Investors range from those that are completely self-directed to those that require decision support and guidance. We have developed two completely new products for Japan to serve the demands of these customers."
8 Securities has raised $12 million and lead investors are Velocity Capital (Amsterdam) and Leitmotiv Private Equity (Hong Kong). "We are in the process of raising $5 million growth capital for Japan and China new customer growth," added Mikaal.
8 Securities had acquired a license to enter Japan from a small local broker who was existing in December 2012. It took the first half of 2013 to transfer the license and consolidate that company into 8 Securities. 8 Securities has spent the past 6 months deploying tech operations (cloud) in Japan and building the two core products for Japan - Wealth Management and Social Trading Portal. "Although we technically had an active license, yesterday marks our 'official' launch under our brand, technology and products," adds Mikaal.
8 Securities will launch its new automated portfolio management service in 3 weeks to challenge the asset management industry. "Wealth Management products are unnecessarily expensive, complex and exclusive. We want to democratize access by bringing it all online. We are offering customers in Japan a simple way to invest in a global portfolio of up to 17 exchange traded funds. Customers complete a 3 minute online survey to assess their risk profile and time horizon and we deliver a global portfolio that matches their goals. Its that simple," added Mikaal. The portfolio is diversified across geography, asset class and sectors. Customers can monitor the performance of their portfolio in real-time via web or mobile. The automated global portfolio will be as much as 80% cheaper than a traditional asset manager with no commissions or hidden fees. Furthermore, customers can invest as little as $7,000 USD for a fully diversified global portfolio. Most asset managers require a minimum investment of $100,000 USD.
In July, the company plans to launch its Social Trading Portal in Japan. "We believe social trading is the future. We have created a private community for investors to share ideas, ask questions and follow trends in real-time. For the first time, customers will have total transparency. By linking real trades, social transactions, research and market data we are able to generate new insights for our customers" said Mikaal. Features will include a ability to view the most active stock buys & sells, the top performing traders, the most popular stock holding and a central forum for sharing and discussion. 8 Securities will also give customers an option to set up web and mobile alerts based on any piece of data they wish to see. For example, a customer may want to set a mobile alert when more than 10 customers sell Apple in a specified time period. Customers maintain their anonymity behind their avatars and have the option to opt out of the social features.
When asked about expansion plans, Mikaal said the next geography will be China. "In my past 15 years of experience in this industry, I have never witnessed such rapid and positive regulatory changes in China as I have this year. We are actively working on several entry options and will likely lead with our Social Trading Portal. Our goal is to connect investors from around the world so that they may educate one another as global investing becomes more mainstream" added Mikaal. "Like every other industry, mobile and social will shatter conventional brick and mortar businesses who refuse to adapt."
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