Building Freetrade

Building a new infrastructure for investing

Freetrade Team

February 27, 2020

Freetrade Team

Only owning our platform end-to-end would enable us to not charge commissions AND become a sustainable business.

When we started Freetrade, free investing seemed like a fantastical idea for most people.

In our first crowdfunding round in 2016, only 140 crazy individuals thought it had merit.

For us, the idea was so obvious, it hardly needed explanation. But as our founding team started to understand the stack needed to make investing truly free, one thing became very clear very fast.

Only owning our platform end-to-end would enable us to not charge commissions AND become a sustainable business.

The hard way and the easy way

A startup with limited resources is massively outgunned by the large banks and brokers that control the stock market. Capital markets is an industry where capital and the rotadex of contacts you went to school with has always mattered.

In the UK, the oligopoly is especially pronounced. And the traditional brokers have feasted on the profits that come from a power imbalance between broker and consumer, and are in no hurry to break down barriers to entry.

We understood that by using new technology, we could circumvent the incumbent middle-men, connect directly to the markets, and therefore reduce costs significantly.

It was going to be a permanent, sustainable solution.

But it was also going to be a long and hard journey, which is the reason why so few companies create their own tech. The path of least resistance is building your app on top of other providers, which is inherently expensive in the long run, eats your profits, and gives little flexibility to innovate for your customers.

In a world awash in money from venture capital and other sources, building on top of third-party companies and subsidising the costs are a quick fix to provide free stuff.

We are going the hard way

Our way was always going to be building our own proprietary technology.

We threw most of our engineering and company resources behind the project, as much as we could.

It’s hard to describe the frustration our entire team felt by giving up quick win app features that could have helped our customers, in favour of a years-long project.

While the endeavour felt right, we had to live with our choice every day. And in the life of a startup, a day feels like a month.

Meanwhile, we were talking to our community and getting valuable input. We spent some engineering time to implement the best of the feedback, but the vast majority of our team remained focused on Invest.

Today, after almost two years, our own brokerage platform is fully rolled out.

All aboard the Invest platform

As of today, we moved all accounts to Invest by Freetrade. Neither words nor emojis can quite describe how we feel.

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Invest is immediately giving our customer community a faster and smoother app, real-time deposits with Apple and Google Pay, and most importantly, a solid foundation to roll out new features at a rapid pace.

The first feature launches today

The first feature to roll out is something we wanted to provide back in 2018 when we onboarded our first customer, but it wasn’t viable.

It is now.

Instant Orders just became commission-free for everyone.

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This permanent change to £0 commission will be live on your app as soon as you update it.

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And this is just the start.

What’s coming up next

We have a long list of features we are rolling out, and the next three are:

  1. Fractional shares. They were in the very first crowdfunding pitch deck in 2016, and they are launching in weeks.
  2. A LOT more stocks. From thousands of US stocks, to even more UK, as well as European and Asian ones, they are all on their way. We are prioritising the first batch of US stocks that have been the highest voted by the community.
  3. A premium account. We’ll only be a sustainable business by developing our revenue streams. Basic Accounts will remain free, forever, and in the next few months, we will offer you an advanced account that you’ll find too good not to pay for.

Remaining open in a competitive world

Transparency is in our DNA.

We started out by involving our then small crowdfunding community not only financially, but by getting their pre-product feedback and more.

Transparent is how we think all companies should operate, especially those in financial services and fintech. It’s how we run Freetrade, and how we interact with our community.

We’ll continue sharing our roadmap, have our community beta test the features, and more. We are building a company with trust at its core, and that’s only possible by interacting with and being open with our community.

That openness means a lot more than features, it’s across all important topics. How we think about building the product long-term and providing free trades sustainably is a particularly important one.

Markets change, our ethos does not. Prepare for a very busy rest of the year!

Important information:

This should not be read as personal investment advice and individual investors should make their own decisions or seek independent advice. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication.

When you invest, your capital is at risk. Tax rules for ISAs can change and their benefits depend on your circumstances. The value of your portfolio can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

Freetrade is a trading name of Freetrade Limited, which is a member firm of the London Stock Exchange and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales (no. 09797821).

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