Wealthsimple Inc., a Toronto-based startup currently offering investing and savings products, is launching a stock trading platform with zero commissions for its Canadian users.
“We started with investing and then launched savings earlier this year.” After that, he said, trading seemed like a natural extension, even though Wealthsimple has focused its business around index funds rather than portfolios of individual stocks.
The trading platform will only be available in Canada for now, although Wealthsimple does offer some of its products in the U.S. and the U.K. It will start by offering the ability to buy and sell shares of more than 8,000 Canadian and U.S. stocks and exchange-traded funds, and says it plans to keep adding to that number in the future.
While the company is one of the most well-known Canadian fintech startups, it will face stiff competition if it wants to launch this product in the U.S. Robinhood Markets Inc., a Menlo Park, California-based startup that offers a free trading app, was founded in 2013 and now counts 4 million accounts.
Since it doesn’t charge a flat fee for each trade, Robinhood makes money in other ways such as offering a premium service, collecting interest on the funds in each account and payment for order flow, or giving other electronic firms the right to execute trades.
Wealthsimple won’t be offering a premium service to begin with, but says its offerings could change between the current beta period and its official launch, based on user feedback.
In terms of how seamlessly each trade is executed, Katchen says that he’s confident the company offers a strong value proposition.