Posted on April 5, 2019 by staff

‘Fantasy finance’ game is rocket fuel for London FinTech


FinTech firm Invstr has amassed a user base of more than 90,000 people on its app in just five months thanks to a fantasy sports-style game.

The Invstr platform, which enables anyone to become an investor, was launched by Kerim Derhalli after a 30-year finance career which included managing director positions at Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers and stints at Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan.

He launched the app in 2014 two years after founding the London business. However its user base has acclerated from around 2,000 in November to 90,000 today thanks to the launch of Fantasy Finance.

The firm is now adding a thousand users a day while the app is currently seeing 100 interactions every second. With 15,000 trades exchanged each day, it boasts users across 204 countries.

The Invstr Fantasy League was created in the vision of other popular fantasy sports games, where players compete around the world by choosing a ‘dream team’ which scores points based on real-life performances.

Players compete in the Invstr Fantasy League for a monthly $1,000 prize.

“There are analogies between ‘fantasy finance’ and fantasy sports,” Derhalli told BusinessCloud. “You can think of your portfolio as your team, and the players on your team are the individual stocks and shares that you have in your portfolio.

“You have substitutes that we call a ‘watch list’ and you can substitute instruments in and out in exactly the same way you would substitute players in and out of a fantasy sports team.

“It helps people understand that managing a portfolio and investing is just like managing a sports team.”

Invstr was crowned FinTech Innovator of the Year at BusinessCloud’s Business Tech Awards in November. Investors on the platform can begin investing with as little as $1.

“We reduce the entry bar massively for people who want to get into the market,” said Derhalli.

“About 80 per cent of people we surveyed would love to learn more about investing, but said they don’t have confidence when it comes to it; they thought investing was just for people who have a lot of money; or even if they had some money, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

“Investr’s mobile platform is the only app in the world trying to solve these three problems. Our game makes it fun for people to learn how to invest and gives them the confidence to understand that investing isn’t really that complicated after all.

“We’ve also got ‘fractional investing’, which means you can start buying [fractions of] stocks and shares with as little as $1. With a relatively small amount of money you can start not just to invest, but to start to have a diversified portfolio in equities, which is key.”

Derhalli says the company also uses a “Facebook-like technology” to teach people about how to buy and sell.

“You can look at someone’s profile to see what they’re buying and selling in our game, then decide to follow them and comment on their feed,” he explained.

“We get that engagement going, enabling peer-to-peer learning.  We also make a lot of content and information available in a very user-friendly and relatable way.

“Our engagement retention numbers are really, really strong: people are coming back day after day.  It’s fantastic and proving very, very popular.”

Invstr has been promoted mainly through word-of-mouth and received a boost when Apple included it in the ‘Apps we love’ section on its App Store.

“They’ve also added us to 1,400 different collections. We didn’t know they were pushing us which is great and has been very, very satisfying,” Derhalli said.

The firm now plans to become its own regulated broker dealer instead of diverting consumers when they open a brokerage account, which is necessary to begin investing.

The company currently has around 25 employees based in London, Istanbul and more recently, Texas.