eToro, the Israeli investment social network, is relaunching an overhauled version of its platform as the company gets ready for a big push into Russia and China, two countries where the potential is “mind-blowing,” according to the company’s chief executive.
eToro, launched in 2007, is a social network that lets people “follow” other traders and see what trades they are making. The platform even has an auto-trade feature that allows you to automatically copy the trades of anyone you follow. eToro has 5 million registered users across 140 countries, although it does not disclose active user numbers.
On Thursday, CEO and cofounder Yoni Assia is debuting the company’s new platform at tech conference Web Summit in Dublin, before travelling to Russia next week to launch the service. eToro raised $US27 million (£17 million) from the investment arms of China’s Ping An Insurance and Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, last December.
Assia told Business Insider: “We just recently set up an office in both Moscow and Shanghai, we’re starting to scale both. We recently hired a managing director in Russia and we’re planning to do a nice launch event next week. Actually the week after I’m in China.”
He added:”We’re working with our investors, Ping An and Sberbank. They see a huge opportunity of how social trading can enable people in China and Russia to access the global financial markets.
Assia said he’s impressed with the way Ping An thinks and innovates. “It’s nothing to compare with the dialogues I’ve had in the past with western bank,” he said.
Assia added: “They [Ping An] understand that if they don’t innovate, the internet companies in China are going to take their business. Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu are already setting up financial services arms. That’s not really happening here, you wouldn’t hear the CEO of Barclays saying Facebook is going to compete with me.”
Assia says his platform allows foreign investors to understand global markets in a unique way, saying: “For them [Chinese and Russian investors], the question is: how do I know what to buy in the UK market? Our answer is: just look at what all the people in the UK market are buying and ask them, and look at the performance.”
eToro’s overhauled platform combines its social app with its trading app and includes new social features such as the ability to make lists of people and assets you’re following. The platform also lets people trade stocks, indices, commodities, and currencies.
The new platform gives more of an emphasis of risk as well as return, with each trader featuring a prominent risk score alongside return rates. Around 50% of investors on the platform copy other traders, according to Assia, but only 5% of traders are copied. Star traders with the most followers get an asset under management fee of up to 2%.
Assia said: “We’re still early stages in both Russia and China. Our platform is localised to both. In China, we’ve learnt that everything is upside down — literally. Green means down and red means up. But it’s a really interesting market, the potential is mind blowing.”
He continued: “In both we’re setting up our infrastructure. We’re getting a lot of assistance from our partners there. It’s a bit different because it’s not 100% defined as it is in Europe. In Russia for example, they’re actually in the process of setting down rules and we’re part of the group helping to define the regulation of offshore investing. We’re seeing a similar thing in China. We’ve set up our operation in the Shanghai free trade zone.”
Assia sees China’s recent stock market collapse a positive thing for the market, saying: “They know how to read a stock chart, they know what bid and ask are. For them buying Google is probably much easier than it was before.”
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