The past decade has brought changes in the financial market that few people could have ever predicted. New, entirely digital assets like bitcoin and EFTs have turned inexperienced outsiders into overnight millionaires.
Once conservative financial titans such as Chase and Softbank have thrown billions of dollars into wildcard investments, underscoring an unprecedented shift in what is considered viable. Perhaps most significantly, access to trading and financial markets has been vastly expanded to levels never previously thought possible, ushering in a process that some have described as the democratization of finance.
All of this has been enabled by new technologies that allow retail traders like you or me to buy and sell stocks on the market in the same way that a Wall Street broker would do. Let’s take a closer look at how these trading apps have revolutionized trading forever.
Robins and Bulls
More people are engaging in retail investing and trading than ever before. After years in which the public, especially younger generations, avoided investing or trading stocks, a portfolio is now the hottest accessory.
Much of this remarkable shift can be attributed to apps like eToro or Robin Hood, which have attracted tens of millions of customers and introduced new generations to trading and investing.
They are able to do this because their business model allows them to provide genuine market access without crushingly high commission or trading fees. Instead, these platforms absorb much of this cost and make a profit from spreads and exclusive services for VIP members.
These apps have built a new digital infrastructure that has made markets more accessible and more understandable than ever. However, these alone are not the only drivers of the democratization of finance. There are also entirely new forms of trading that have allowed people without billion-dollar cash holdings to take part in Wall Street.
One is fractional trading, which has allowed people to buy portions of shares within their budget (i.e., instead of spending $800 on one Tesla share, you can buy $100 worth of Tesla stock as a fraction).
In addition, CFDs have made trading and ownership less complicated for retail investors, as they can now speculate on a wide range of assets without ever having to own them outright (this is especially helpful with crypto and commodities, which can be difficult to secure direct ownership of in a timely manner). This new form of trading has made it easier to navigate the market with nothing more than your smartphone.
The Trust Factor
Another important thing to consider is the so-called trust factor. In the past, it was very difficult to determine whether a service for retail investors was legit, leading to a huge number of scams in the 1990s and 2000s in which many people got burned.
However, all of that has changed with the help of dedicated online review sites. This service has existed before in other contexts. For example, online review sites have formed the backbone of the insurance industry for a long time, as people’s primary resource for choosing a coverage provider.
Even the world of digital entertainment has long been driven by third-party review sites, such as the online casino industry. Today, people can consult expert sites to find reviews of real money online casinos, where they can learn whether an operator is trustworthy and whether they can deposit money with them to make bets. In much the same way, authoritative review sites for trading platforms are helping more people to avoid scams and invest safely.
Whether the democratization of finance is a universal good is still up for debate. However, it’s clear that it has already provided unprecedented opportunities for those who aren’t lucky enough to work on Wall Street.