Being European, my co-founder Mihkel & I had a front row seat to how difficult and expensive investing in global markets was. You have the big banks and professional platforms — but then you’re faced with confusing interfaces and crazy fees. And if you ever wanted to understand what was behind market movements on any given day, your best shot was to spend some time on Google reading multiple different news sources.
In 2020, when Mihkel & I first talked about the broken investment system in Europe, we nailed down three main problems that both of us were facing:
- Expensive and opaque fee structures Fees are expensive and often not transparent. There are so many varying components and everybody has a different approach when it comes to charging customers. There are the transaction fees, foreign exchange fees, monthly custody fees, spreads, instrument management fees and more. It seemed like we were always getting the short stick there.
- Limited access to markets All the current options for investing were hyper-local, and restricted to one or two markets. There weren't really any solutions usable across the whole European continent. You have some local brokers, but they tend to offer bad access to global markets.
- Limited information and education Most platforms are execution venues. Little information is available for the customer to really understand the market, portfolio or instruments they’re interacting with. Today, you’d need to use multiple services to get a better all-round understanding about investing.
While there are tons of options for investing out there, none of them addressed all of the above in one go. We knew we couldn’t be the only people facing these problems. And when we couldn’t find a good solution, we knew we had to build it ourselves.
It’s been about 9 months since we first launched Lightyear to people in the UK, and what a whirlwind it’s been. We’ve been learning and growing every day, and one thing we’ve our sights fixed on is bringing Lightyear to Europe.
There are a lot of ways I can describe how we’re different to the other platforms out there, but I’ll focus on two main points:
First, it’s all about our people ⭐️
In the past two years, we’ve hired a team of 30 — with a passion for our mission and knowledge from some of the best fintechs out there. The experience they bring from Robinhood, Wise and Revolut, among others, is special.
We also have a group of passionate investors backing us. Our seed funding round was led by Mosaic Ventures, Taavet Hinrikus, Sten Tamkivi, Metaplanet’s Jaan Tallinn and early Monzo backer Eileen Burbidge.
More recently, we raised an additional $25 million in our series A and are now backed by one of Silicon Valley’s top investors Lightspeed and Sir Richard Branson too.
Then there’s our product 📲
Today, Lightyear is giving people across Europe access to over 3,000+ US stocks, European stocks & ETFs. We won’t stop there though! We’ll continue to add new instruments regularly after this initial launch.
To make global investing truly seamless, we’ve built a multi-currency account, allowing you to hold and invest money in EUR, GBP & USD. That means you can say goodbye to hidden fees. On Lightyear you'll find a simple, flat 0.35% fee when you convert between currencies (check out our pricing page for all the details).
The trade cycle, opening & maintaining your account are all for free, really.
Another integral part of our mission is education 📚
Offering you all the data and tools you need to make informed decisions about your investments. So you wouldn’t have to flick through 10 news outlets to get the full picture of what’s causing market movements. In the Lightyear app, you’ll find features like Lightning Updates, Stock financials, Analyst ratings and more, to help you cut through the noise.
We see investing money for your future as something fundamental. It shouldn’t be exclusive to an already privileged VIP club with masses of disposable income and insider knowledge. Or to people in select countries. We want to offer everyone, whatever amount they’re investing, access to a full suite of products to help them in their futures — that’s our mission.
From today, people from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain can access Lightyear alongside people in the UK.
And we couldn’t be more excited to have you all along for the ride.
Martin & the Lightyear team