Established brokers and startups want in on the crypto boom – but, Trading 212 is a bit of both.
Founded by Bulgarians Ivan Ashminov and Boris Nedialkov, Trading 212 is the trade name for Avus Capital, a broker-dealer with roots going back 14 years in foreign exchange and commodities dealing in Europe. But while the company isn’t exactly new, what it’s doing with share trading and cryptocurrencies is – and it seems to be generating success so far.
Its app is the most-downloaded trading app in the UK, with the company now providing a full-blown trading operation, with markets in some 2,500 instruments, ranging from shares to commodities.
In June this year, however, Trading 212 took a bold step in adding cryptocurrencies to the mix, helping it to attract a younger crowd – the millennials – broking industry incumbents are finding hard to reach. These are the consumers who grew up against the background of the 2008 financial crisis, and as a consequence, are inclined to see financial service companies as the bad guys.
And while U.S. fintech startups Invstr and Kapitall are targeting the same demographic of 20-something financial cynics, they don’t yet have the “magic sauce” of crypto to sell on their shelves. For the likes of Trading 212, crypto is a way of further enhancing its appeal to new users.
But the question is: just how effective has this push been?
No hard figures
Nick Saunders, chief executive of Trading 212’s UK operation, won’t say for sure.
In interview, Saunders was cagey about disclosing exact figures on how much crypto constitutes in terms of its overall business, although he described the contribution as “significant.”
“We’d rather not share the exact numbers but it is [a few percent] of the combined volume generated by all exchanges, which is quite a lot for a single retail broker,” he said.
Still, Saunders did suggest that Trading 212 is benefiting from the wave of new attention cryptocurrencies have received in 2017. After rising from under $10 billion at the start of the year, the total value of the combined market has risen to more than $170 billion.
In short, it’s showing all the attributes of a hot market that’s generating returns.