Freetrade, the UK-based digital brokerage app, has announced its plans to expand across Europe starting with the Netherlands and Ireland.
The UK digital trading space has already seen traction by international players in the last six months. In August 2019, US challenger Robinhood secured its licence to trade in the UK. Not long after this, Australian challenger Stake also secured its licence and is now rolling out its beta app in the region.
But last December, Freetrade became the only full stack trading app to be built by a UK start-up. Unlike competitor Revolut’s trading offering, Freetrade now owns the full stack right down to clearing which means its pricing is no longer controlled by third-parties.
Last year Freetrade also raised $15 million in a Series A funding round, and now says it has a waiting list with “tens of thousands” of potential customers from all over Europe.
The fintech will be onboarding its first 100 beta testers from the Netherlands and Ireland to its in-house ‘Invest’ platform.
Freetrade tells Financial Times it chose the Netherlands and Ireland because of the markets’ high proportion of English speakers and their “openness” to new products. Next on the list for its European expansion will be Germany and France.
“We’re extremely proud to have brought commission-free trading to over 90,000 customers in the UK,” says Freetrade CEO and Founder Adam Dodds. “Now it’s Europe’s turn.”
Dodds sees “a huge opportunity” to tap the hundred of millions of millennials all across Europe. The company’s aims is “to get everyone investing on the continent with [its] low fees”, with Dodds confirming it has already seen “a big demand” for the service across the continent.
The start-up says it doesn’t make money on trade volumes or people’s data, rather its revenue comes from customers paying for certain investment products such as an ISA account, or from what CTO Ian Fuller told FinTech Futures is on its way in 2020: the ‘pro-plan’, which is still in development. Basic investing accounts are free.
It’s also looking at an ‘auto-pilot’ feature which would automatically funnel money into different accounts for you and integrate with customers’ banks so they can see their investments in their banking app. “We want people to go to the Freetrade app, but if you’re looking at your savings app it would be nice to see how much you’ve invested,” says Fuller.
Founder of Bux, a Netherlands-based fee-free trading app, tells Financial Times that it’s all very well and good UK and US companies expanding into Europe, but to be successful on the continent they need systems which can adapt to new countries very quickly.
With US challenger Robinhood yet to launch in the UK market despite securing its licence six months ago, Aussie broker app Stake having just launched its beta to UK customers and Freetrade on the cusp of launching across Europe, now is a pivotal time to see whether these mobile-first brokerage apps can succeed abroad against local competitors.