Dozens of financial technology startups and over a thousand other financial services executives, venture capitalists, regulators and industry analysts gathered this week at the Marriot Marquis hotel in New York City's Times Square for FinovateFall, one of the largest annual fintech conventions in the world.
Finovate remains heavy on the mobile payment, digital lending, blockchain and cryptocurrency sides of fintech, but is catching on to financial advice. This year, the conference even features an entire lineup of panels dedicated to "wealthtech and investech." Just a few year ago, you'd be hard pressed to find a single startup that could tell you what is a financial adviser.
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For fintech reporters, Finovate means a week of cold calls and a stuffed email inbox from startups desperate for coverage of products that usally have nothing to do with the reporter's beat. You can't blame them — even if investment in fintech dipped slightly in recent months, there are still hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars to be made.
But some of those emails lead to meetings with interesting startups like All Of Us, a new self-directed investment platform that doesn't just offer commission-free trading, it actually pays people to trade equities.
All of All of Us' revenue comes off the back end, like selling order flows or earning a spread on cash in accounts, said CEO and founder Alan Grujic. Once the company earns half a percent on an individual's assets, all additional earnings go back to the user. So, if someone has $100,000 on the platform, All of Us makes no more than $500 annually.
The company will also share an annual statement that outlines exactly how an investor's portfolio earns All of Us money, Mr. Grujic said.
All of Us is also encouraging investors to rate investments and share their thoughts, which Mr. Grujic says will create insights from the collective wisdom. Between the unique pricing model and social engagement, he's optimistic All of Us can break into the mobile trading market currently dominated by Robinhood.
"We've built a solution that is a multisided investment platform, social channel and trusted financial adviser in one, and we've done it by keeping our revenue model open, fair and honest," Mr. Grujic said in a statement.
While only equities will be available at first, Mr. Grujic would like to eventually support options and even digital currencies. He would also like to make All of Us available as a platform financial advisers can use to manage client assets.
The success of All of Us will depend on if it can get users. The social engagement features are supposed to be a primary reason investors choose All of Us over other platforms like Robinhood, but they won't be worth much without people already using them.
The "get paid to trade" model sounds attractive, intentionally limiting revenue is a bold strategy.
And with many in financial services battening down the hatches in preparation for a market pullback or possible recession, it may not be the best time to launch a company built around stock trading.
Mr. Grujic isn't worried. The wait list for All of Us was already growing faster than expected even before the public launch at Finovate, he said.
A market pullback would reduce trading volume, but Mr. Grujic believes the social insights on All of Us could help recommend investing strategies to get through a downturn that investors can't get on other platforms.
Mr. Grujic has already invested $2 million of his own into the company and raised an additional $1 million from Peak6 Investments and friends and family.
"What we really want to do here is get regular people on the platform and use their group power for their benefit," Mr. Grujic told InvestmentNews at Finovate. "We want to build our own algorithms and deliver for regular people instead of financial institutions."
Now it's just a matter of regular people joining.