In October 2015, BUX won the Accenture Innovation Award (AIA) for the theme “Financial Services”. Ever since their participation in AIA 2015, there has been a significant rise in the number of BUX users: from 250,000 to 1.5 million users. How is BUX doing nowadays?
How would you describe BUX in one tweet to somebody who isn’t familiar with BUX?
“BUX is an app that allows you an easy, cheap, and fun way to access and understand the stock market.”
Do you notice any similarities and differences when you compare BUX now with the app at its inception?
“The significant difference compared to when we started out is the increase in the number of users. But our company and its principles haven’t changed. To this day, we haven’t had anybody say they wanted to leave.”
How did your idea for this app originate?
“We noticed many people were interested in becoming active on the stock market, but they lacked the knowledge to start their adventure. During my twelve and a half years at Binck, I received questions such as ‘How does that work, buying a stock?’, or ‘How can I capitalize on the low interest rate right now and use my savings wisely?’. The group of people asking these kinds of questions appeared to be very large compared to the group of people buying stocks. I decided to make use of the opportunity this presented – also to share my own fascination with the stock market.”
Who is the intended audience for BUX?
“Anybody with the desire to know more about the stock market. Making money does not have to be your primary motivation; being interested is more than enough reason to use our app. The stock market can seem like a cold, indifferent world that only revolves around business. I don’t consider that true; the stock market reflects everything that goes on in the world, from politics to weather forecasts. For example, when the weather gets very cold, gas prices go up, which increases your company’s expenses – this also affects the stock market.”
You mentioned your app also teaches you about the stock market. In what way?
“Absolutely, the learning process is our main goal. Through this app you will come across many appealing articles. We have articles ranging from Warren Buffet to the Brexit. The BUX app gives you access to our community, and lets you form groups and follow people – it’s comparable to how Instagram and Twitter work.”
Is the community an important part of the app?
“If I had to summarize our most distinctive qualities, I would say the user-friendliness and instructiveness of BUX certainly contribute most to the success of our app. It should always be possible to ride your bicycle and still be able to use your app effectively.”
What is your revenue model?
“When working with fake money, you have to pay BUX a fake fee. We don’t make any money from this fake fee, but it does teach you about the concept of a fee. This is important, because people should be aware of the consequences of buying with real money. When dealing with real money, we receive a real fee. The fee is determined by looking at the transaction in question, but will always be at least 25 cents. The rest of our revenue comes from trading in leverages. This source of revenue is the interest people pay when investing with borrowed capital. The amount of interest people pay is dependent on the amount of money borrowed.”
Is there a higher rate of serious users than “funBUX’ers”?
“There are 130,000 people who have an account with real money in our app. This amounts to about 8,5 percent of all our users – a 3,5 percent increase in the last three years. We do not see large fluctuations in this percentage anymore. Many people see our app as a fun experiment. Also, we have a considerable number of underage users. These users haven’t reached the legal age yet required to be a participant in the stock market and can therefore only use fake money in our app. Attracting paying users has proved to be difficult. Nevertheless, in the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of paying users.”
How are you dealing with the increased number of users?
“Our one app has emerged as a unique brand; this is uncommon in the financial world. Soon, we will be launching two new apps under the same brand. If the current app is a bit too hard or fast for you, one of the new apps might bea better fit.”
What will the new apps offer?
“Our current app centers on short-term trade. Short-term trading isn’t suitable for money that you might need for other things later. We will be launching a real stocks app, and we will be addressing current popular demand by introducing a cryptocurrency app.”
Does BUX have competitors, and why do people choose BUX?
“Nobody does exactly what we do. Investing is still just investing. This means that anybody looking to invest his or her money will have to make a choice. Consequently, any medium that offers investing tools can be considered a competitor. BUX has an edge, because our app offers an educational environment, combined with user-friendliness and, at only 25 cents per transaction, a very low threshold for beginners. A big bank will charge you four or five euros for a transaction, making it senseless to trade with very small amounts of money. Last, but not least: our app and articles use a tone of voice that is comprehensible to our users.”
Three years ago, BUX was only active in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Did you expect to expand to the rest of Europe?
“Yes, from the very beginning I aimed to expand internationally. For now, we are focusing our efforts on Europe, but potentially, expanding our efforts outside of Europe is not at all farfetched….”
What do you consider the biggest challenge for your company?
“Attracting good developers for mobile phones is a big challenge. Also, many laws are constantly changing. We’re not a big company, so we don’t have an army of lawyers at our disposal. This makes dealing with legal obstacles, which is constantly needed, an issue.”
Do you notice any trends in the financial sector?
“Much is possible on a technical level, but people seem to get lost in these technicalities. This has made it important to simplify the technical maze that exists today. A good example is Tikkie: it is an uncomplicated way to send somebody your IBAN. The big challenge is to somehow reduce al the complicated information to just a couple of buttons. This functionality is the same at BUX.”
What do you value most about your participation in the Accenture Innovation Awards?
“In the land of startups there is a lot of competition. Being awarded the Blue Tulip at the AIA only happens if you put a lot of effort in your company. This makes the Accenture Innovation Awards unique. The recognition we received by winning this award was a great honor to my team. I consider the recognition to be the most valuable.”
Do you have any advice for the participants of the 2018 Accenture Innovation Awards?
“Focus on your strong points and outsource the rest. This has been very important for our own success. Furthermore, look for international opportunities right away, and don’t be afraid to attract investors. Many startups delay their efforts to attract investors, because they are reluctant to allocate shares to them. However, investors can accelerate your growth and expand your network.”