Bright colours, cartoon graphics and the ability to trade risk-free with virtual credits are features of apps such as BUX and Kapitall, which eschew financial lingo and complex charts in favour of competitive head-to-head battles and motivational messages like “OMG!” after placing a trade.
While financial trading is a niche slice of the $15 billion mobile gaming industry, dominated by brands such as King Digital Entertainment’s Candy Crush, some two-thirds of UK retail traders already use their smartphone or computer to buy or sell and app makers are sensing an opportunity.
“Developers are realising that games are played by all kinds of people with different desires and motivations, and the same kind of person who is hooked on a computer video game may seek a similar thrill from the stock market,” said Kam Star, founder and managing director at games development studio PlayGen.
Nick Bortot, a former executive at online broker Binckbank, set up BUX (getbux.com) last year in Amsterdam and London. BUX’s launch followed that of similar firms Kapitall and invstr (invstr.com).
Both BUX and Kapitall offer players the chance to play games such as challenging each other on how stocks might perform, but they also offer players the opportunity to go from playing for points to betting actual money.
“I got hooked on BUX instantly, playing for fun, and trying to understand how shares and markets work. Since mid-December, I have been trading with real money,” said Nathaniel Brooks, a 28 year old manager and Playstation aficionado.