September 30, 2019
Source: Investing News Network
Thomas Beattie, CEO of Voleo, spoke with the INN at the Extraordinary Future Conference about breaking down the barriers to investing
Dorothy Neufeld: I am Dorothy Neufeld with the InvestingNews Network and here with me today at
the Extraordinary Futures Conference is Thomas Beatie, CEO of Voleo. Thank you for joining me today.
Thomas Beattie: Thanks for having me Dorothy.
Dorothy Neufeld: So I wanted to first talk about your investment club trading app and the user base growth that you've experienced over the past few months.
Thomas Beattie: Well since we listed and became a public company on the TSX Venture Exchange at the end of May we've had the ability to start spending on advertising for the first time in Voleo’s existence. We've actually doubled our user base over the past three months on the back of the Google Partnership program. They've been running universal app campaigns for us, trying to help us reach a broader cross-section of the market than those that had found Voleo through organic search over the past 18 months. We really targeted the average ordinary American and by that I'm talking about people that have thousands of dollars but not tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest. Those people that might be struggling with the barriers to entry and who wouldn't know what to buy if they started on their own. So what we've done is we've made it possible for them to combine their assets and knowledge with the people that they do trust and validate their decisions with that team. So what we've attracted to date has been a really broad geographic dispersion of users and I'd say one of the more interesting findings is that 46% of Voleo’s users are female.
Dorothy Neufeld: Fascinating, yes that's great news.
Thomas Beattie: They're half the population it would be nice if they were half of the investor base on our platform that's almost true. I think it's the collaboration that is really making the difference for women that might be starting on their investment journey and it's the ability to learn and break down all of those barriers. I mentioned them earlier, but their money, knowledge, time and fear. All of the different constraints and things that might keep someone from starting to invest. And when you can take the uncertainty out of investing and know everyone that you're investing with is in the same spot as you and will have a vested interest in your success, it's a lot easier to take those first steps.
Dorothy Neufeld: Interesting So can you tell me more about the accelerator program that we were part of this past
Thomas Beattie: FIS put on a great B2B accelerator program through the Venture Center in the States. We spend 12 weeks with them and 40 of their partner banks, understanding what their needs are and speaking about our technology solutions. There were ten different FinTech start-ups, all from the US with the exception of Voleo from Vancouver, from over 200 that I initially applied, and they all got access to these institutions to learn more about their pain points and to progress partnership dialogues.
Dorothy Neufeld: So over the past few weeks you've brought in your tradable securities to penny stocks.
Thomas Beattie: Yes we started with shares over $5 in the United States and that was loosely suggested by the examiners of FINRA when Voleo applied and that was because we knew we were targeting an unsophisticated investor base so we kept the offering to listed equities and ETFs that were not penny stocks, but having had a couple of years of soft launch data under our belts and having seen that they were investing responsibly we wanted to open it up to some of the other securities that they may be looking for that are priced under five dollars per share. So the expansion does definitely open up a new and exciting piece of the market and I'm comfortable with doing it because they've made such great investment decisions.
Dorothy Neufeld: Since January you've added some new features to your app. What has stood out to you?
Thomas Beattie: Constant evolution whenever you have a financial technology product. So we started with true investment clubs, pooled resources, teams working together. Then we had members of those clubs asking if they could put on their own personal accounts, so we obviously have facilitated that. Now we're working on a bunch of new features including the launch of teams this fall which will enable individual account holders of all types to share their trading ideas with their networks without having to be part of the same account. Which will for some people give them greater control even. though today we have seen the wisdom of crowds has benefited our clubs to the tune of about 2%.
Dorothy Neufeld: Interesting. So what are some of the challenges that you're finding in a space right now
Thomas Beattie: There's a lot of competition within discount brokerage, it's a competitive space. There are independent players, there are major financial institutions, and there are the startup FinTech unicorns that have raised a lot of capital to target investors in this space. I think we've carved ourselves a quite a unique niche by focusing on collaboration and by targeting the credit unions and community banks that would benefit from filling a gap in their current offering. I think that we were in quite a unique spot within the market. So most of the financial institutions that are smaller in the US, and there are thousands of them, don't have a product that suits the needs of those that might have thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. They've got savings accounts, certificates of deposit and then they've got a wealth criteria, but they don't really have anything in between. And if those customers and members are not able to use that financial institution services they'll go to something else, whether it be an Acorns or a Robin Hood or are
Wealthfront. And all of these solutions are starting to encroach further into the financial lives of their clients offering either debit cards or high interest savings accounts and ultimately there's a real and legitimate risk of those customers leaving these small financial institutions. So we're going to give them the opportunity to add this to their product offering. We will white-label the platform for them and serve their customers, giving them access not only to those customers and their networks, but also providing them with an incremental revenue stream and a means to access the networks of their existing customers and that's their most valuable asset, their current customers.
Dorothy Neufeld: Well that's all the questions that I have, we can leave it here.
Thomas Beattie: We're pretty excited about the quarter ahead. I am expecting that we'll announce our first B2B partnerships later this year. That would be a huge step forward for us because it will validate the model that we are expecting to use as the anchor of Voleo’s future growth.
Dorothy Neufeld: Thank you so much.
Thomas Beattie: Thanks Dorothy.
Dorothy Neufeld: Once again I'm Dorothy Neufeld with Investing News Network.