Richard Branson Invests in Zero-Commission British Stock Trading App Lightyear

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Richard Branson Invests in Zero-Commission British Stock Trading App Lightyear
Photo: Marco Verch / Flickr

To become Europe’s answer to Robinhood, Lightyear has raised $25 million from several investors, including billionaire Richard Branson.

Richard Branson is one of a few investors backing European trading platform startup Lightyear, as the company looks to scale up operations. The UK-based company recently raised $25 million in fresh capital via an investment round led by global venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners. With this new funding, Lightyear intends to establish its app in 19 more European nations including Germany, France, and Italy. By doing this, the stock trading app aspires to become the European version akin to all-encompassing American financial services company Robinhood (NASDAQ: HOOD).

Richard Branson Interest in Lightyear Lends Credence to British Trading App’s Long-term Ambitions

Lightyear securing financial backing from Lightspeed, Richard Branson, and other investors comes at a time when global stock markets are down. However, the company has been able to convincingly sell its notable investors on its ideals and business aspirations. Although still less than a year old, Lightyear already harbors ambitious plans of expanding its footprint across the eurozone. In addition, the company also intends to establish its operational presence in non-euro countries such as Sweden and Norway.

Lightyear was founded in London last September by a pair of Estonian entrepreneurs – Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer. The company currently offers zero commission trading in more than 3,000 global stocks and multi-currency accounts. Prior to launching Lightyear, Sokk and Aamer worked at UK-listed money transfer firm Wise PLC.

Speaking on his involvement in the Lightyear investment round, Branson explained in a shared press release:

“For too long, financial markets have been overly complex with high barriers to entry and confusing jargon. Martin, Mihkel and the Lightyear team are lifting the lid on the world of investing – making it more transparent whilst empowering people through education – to choose the products which are right for them.”

Branson’s stake acquisition in the British stock trading platform was through his Virgin Group conglomerate.

Lightspeed Partner & Lightyear CEO Also Opine on Fundraising Initiative

Commenting on the recent Lightyear fundraising exercise, Lightspeed’s general partner Nicole Quinn identifies the salient investor interest as positive optics. According to her, there is still substantial investor interest in a Europe-centric investment app. Furthermore, this comes even as Robinhood experiences waning trading volumes in the United States.

Quinn also likened the current trajectory of retail investing in Europe to that of the US last year. As she put it:

“Retail investing last year more than doubled in the US. Up to a fifth of all trades are retail investors in the US. We believe that Europe is heading in that direction.”

Lightyear CEO Martin Sokk also weighed in on his company’s recent investment round and long-term aspirations. Sokk maintains that Lightyear remains unfazed about the pervading decline in public markets. This is because “we’re building something that takes an awfully long time,” he explains.

In its quest to reach the summit of European retail trading, Lightyear faces fierce competition from a host of more established companies. These include brokers such as Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell, as well as fintechs like Revolut, Freetrade and eToro.

Business News, Market News, News, Stocks
Tolu Ajiboye
Author Tolu Ajiboye

Tolu is a cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast based in Lagos. He likes to demystify crypto stories to the bare basics so that anyone anywhere can understand without too much background knowledge. When he's not neck-deep in crypto stories, Tolu enjoys music, loves to sing and is an avid movie lover.

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