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Stake: Hands-on review of the new trading app

Stake team - 450

Image: Dan Silver, Founder & COO; Matthew Leibowitz, Founder & CEO; Jon Abitz, Founder & CTO.

Stake gives Australians access to the $31 trillion US market, and with $0 brokerage fees.

I first wrote about the Sydney fintech startup Stake when the trading platform launched this time last year. During the interview co-founder and COO Dan Silver told me they wanted to build a great place for Australians to easily invest in US markets, and something they themselves would be proud to put their money in. Fast forward 12 months and Stake has seen more than $50 million traded on its platform, and today officially launches its new trading app to the App Store with more than 20,000 people on the waitlist.

The Stake app gives Australians direct access to more than 3,000 US stocks and ETFs from the palm of their hand. It's the first app to give Australian traders this level of access to the US markets and some of the world's biggest companies without charging any brokerage fees.

I've been trialling the BETA version of the new app for two weeks now, armed with some cash to burn (or, trade) courtesy of Stake. And for someone who has never traded US stocks before, I'm surprised by how much I've enjoyed it.

It feels like shopping for shares online

I really enjoyed the navigation features and the filtering options available when browsing the shares via the app. I'm often reading about ASX-listed shares but I don't know too much about US stocks, so I found it incredibly helpful to filter by industries I was interested in like consumer staples or technology. As well as searching by industry, the lifestyle category allows you to filter for food, social, travel or health-related shares, while you can also search by region or size of the company depending on your strategy.

Another search feature I used a lot over the two weeks was the "Sort by" tool, allowing me to filter by what stocks are trending, what's the most up, most down, most viewed or most watched.

I found it interesting to see which shares everyone else has their eye on, and I found that sorting by "What's down" is a good way to spot a bargain buy.

These features make the whole experience really user-friendly and easy to navigate, as it feels like shopping online or using a social media platform. "Everyone knows intuitively how to shop online, they know how to go and buy groceries, they know how to buy a pair of shoes or a top, so why can’t it be that easy for finance?” Silver said back when the platform first launched a year ago.

News, analysis and advanced order types

When you click on a particular stock, it opens up its own profile with a price chart and relevant news pieces. Underneath the stock that you've selected, it also shows related shares based on what other people who looked at the stock are also trading or watching. This is a great way to discover stocks that might not be as well-known.

From the chart, you can buy the stock and choose to buy at market or place a limit buy with your price target. Once the order has been executed, you can also set up your stop loss and sell limit orders. Considering the US stock markets are in full swing when I'm sleeping, I relied on these advanced order types heavily throughout the last two weeks to manage my risk.

$0 brokerage

Stake doesn't charge any brokerage fees, and instead makes money on the currency conversion between AUD and USD when you fund your account, or when you transfer your USD profits back into AUD. It applies a margin of 0.7% on top of the spot FX exchange rates.

Because there aren't any brokerage fees to worry about when buying and selling shares, I found myself placing trades every day or two. It was a lot more fast-paced than the usual buy-and-hold strategy that most of us use when investing on the ASX, but it also meant I could jump on opportunities much quicker, and trade smaller amounts.

“The US is where the world trades. Red tape and brutal fees shouldn’t be the reason Aussies are locked out of trading some of the world’s fastest growing companies like Apple, Alibaba, and Amazon. We’re on a mission to democratise trading,” said Stake CEO and co-founder Matt Leibowitz.

“It’s insane to me that in 2018, in an on-demand society driven by technology, many Aussies are sticking to investment strategies born in the dark ages. So many are limiting their investments to ASX-listed companies because of the painfully slow process of investing overseas," he said.

The Stake app is available for free download on the App Store and will be launching on Google Play soon.

Images: Supplied by Stake

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