TECHNOLOGY

Trade Like Your Heroes With TradeHero

Clueless About Financial Trading? This Singaporean Gaming Platform Can Be Your Ground Zero

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 17 Aug 2017

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Those new to financial trading may want to start with training wheels on TradeHero. The platform gives users who sign up for the app, which is available on both the App Store and Google Play, TradeHero dollars. This branded denomination is, of course, a virtual currency that allows users to trade without the risk of losing real money. Users can trade on almost every live equity exchange available worldwide including currencies and CFDs.

Don’t be fooled, however. TradeHero is not just a game.

“When you think you have gotten the knack of trading, you can sign up online to become a real money trader,” says Dinesh Bhatia, co-founder of TradeHero.

Getting the knack of trading, TradeHero calculates, is not merely a matter of immersion and repetition. TradeHero’s Bhatia believes that part of acquiring the knack involves following the trading tips and histories of experts with established financial track records. Think of it as bringing the social influencer model to finance, except users are not emulating lipstick brands but financial instruments. Users can follow other people in the community whose trading track records they admire, lessening, to some extent, the need to go through boring research reports and making solitary decisions.

“Every time you follow someone on our platform, you pay us a fee with which we split with the person being followed, thus placing a value on [their] information,” says Bhatia. One of the company’s stated goals is to democratize financial advice.

The mission of financial empowerment is a personal one for Bhatia, who comes from more of a science, rather than finance, background. The 47-year-old, Singapore-born Bhatia graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in both electrical engineering and computer science, before going on to a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from London’s Imperial College.

“I want to try and make things more equal, and a product like TradeHero is a good antidote,” says Bhatia, who once—trivia alert!—had a song become #1 in Singapore as part of the band Kick! which played in front of tens of thousands.

The social element of TradeHero is built on the reasonable belief that no investor (with the exception, perhaps, of George Soros or Warren Buffet) can be an expert on every financial instrument under the sun.

“If you are good on the SGX [Singapore Stock Exchange], you may not be so good on the ASX [Australia Stock Exchange], but someone else may be and you can exchange your market trading skills,” Bhatia says.

Such collaboration gives individual investors a leg up against the big boys.

“Social trading allows retail investors to depend on themselves and work in a larger block to counter the effects of institutional investors more,” Bhatia says.

Bhatia believes one of the biggest advantages of the platform is the fact you can initially transact without the pressure of losing real money. One case, he says, stands out.

“A dad asked his 16-year-old son to prove himself trading on TradeHero for three months after he continually asked his dad for funds to invest in the stock market. The son did better than so the father created a real live trading account on behalf of his son for ten thousand Singapore dollars,” Bhatia says.

The four-year-old Singapore-based start-up mostly targets young people below the age of 30, who have little to no interest or time to focus on trading full-time. It boasts over eight million users mostly concentrated in Southeast Asia and China. The app has been the number one finance app download in over 91 countries, and it is consistently one of the most popular trading apps world-wide.

With a sizable user base, Bhatia says the challenge now is to convert existing users from simulated trading to live trading.

The future appears bright for both the core TradeHero platform and its spin-off products like SportsHero, which applies the influencer model to sporting events.

“The founders have proved flexible in different market conditions,” says Frank Lee, an investment manager at TNF Ventures, which led TradeHero’s seed round. “It is still early for the company to be considered a success, but the team definitely has the grit and mettle to see the company through.”