Stock trading portal 8 Securities, a TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2011 finalist, just announced that it will launch in Japan next month. The Hong Kong-based startup hopes to tap into the Japanese market, which it estimates has over 16 million online investors. It also closed a $3 million funding round last week, with all eight private investors from its initial round of $8 million returning.
Founded by former E*TRADE executives, 8 Securities launched at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing. Back then we lauded its “sexy” financial dashboards, which are customizable with widgets containing graphs, stock tickers, video stream, and other content (the company’s API is available for developers to create investing tools for sale through 8 Securities’ app store). Each users’ personalized investment portal allows them trade in their local market or US shares from the same account, as well as access market research and a private social network. Investors are charged per stock trade (the price for a U.S. stock trade is currently $8.88 — 8 is seen as an auspicious number in Chinese culture). The company has enjoyed rapid growth: it currently has 55,000 customers holding $1 billion in assets, but that’s just a tiny fraction of the estimated 80 million investors in Asia that 8 Securities wants to reach.
The company will use its latest funding round to finance global expansion. It plans to compete with online brokerages in the U.S. and is also looking at acquisition opportunities in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, India and the Middle East. 8 Securities’ tech operations and platform are hosted on Amazon EC2, which co-founder and CEO Mikaal Abdulla says gives the startup “an enormous scalability and cost advantage” over competitors who rely on traditional data centers and physical locations. The website is currently available in English, traditional and simplified Chinese, and Japanese.