Exclusive: Lars Gottwik on his new financial gaming startup TRADANTS
FNG Exclusive Interview… After spending 10 years building up JFD as a leading player in the Retail FX and CFD brokerage space, Lars Gottwik has embarked on an ambitious new project called TRADANTS which aims to merge the worlds of esports, skill gaming, and trading.
How is “financial gaming” different from regular online trading?
What is TRADANTS’ target market?
What does Lars think about the pushback in the US against the “gamification of trading”?
Here is what Lars had to say about these topics and lots more, exclusively at FNG.
FNG: Hi Lars, and thanks for joining us today. How did you decide to get involved in financial gaming after your successful experience building JFD as a ‘classic’ Retail FX & CFD broker?
Lars: Back in the day, we built JFD with an agency-only business model as an alternative to market-making retail brokers who were in constant conflict of interest with their clients (individual investors). The company elevated the post-trade transparency standard to a new level that eventually made a positive difference for many retail investors worldwide.
Nowadays, numerous financial service providers claim to democratise capital markets by reducing or eliminating their commissions or fees. However, the truth is that decreasing or removing participation fees doesn’t mean democratising capital markets. At best, they only lower entry barriers, but you still need a substantial initial investment to get profitable, so capital markets remain exclusive for the wealthier part of society.
As a company, TRADANTS aims to solve that global problem and democratise capital markets once and for all by transforming financial trading into a worldwide game where players have an equal chance for success, irrespective of their home country, parents’ wealth or educational background.
I had the idea of merging esports, skill gaming, and trading to create a new trading concept for a very long time. Trading is – or at least should be – understood as a strategic skill game, yet mostly missing direct competition. All cultures around the world enjoy playing games that include competing with others, either one on one or via teams, so why should trading remain a ‘lonely’ activity? Instead, I think it has the potential to become an exciting global game played directly against others, including financial education within a gamified approach. TRADANTS will address this gap by turning trading into an epic esport.
FNG: Please explain to us, how is “Gamified Trading” different from regular trading, that a client trading on an MT4 or MT5 platform via a Retail FX & CFD broker would be used to?
Lars: Firstly, our concept implies that no real fund investment is required to participate in the game, while players get a reasonable chance to earn money from a predefined cash prize pool. Moreover, we apply classic gamification tools to create a fun and engaging environment for our users.
Secondly, we will run competitions at a very granular level to serve different types of participants and investment horizons, including single and multiplayer options, blitz tournaments available at any time of the day, as well as long-term earning opportunities. Additionally, we actively promote and enable financial education, as gamification is a great tool to deliver educational content to Gen-Zs.
Last but not least, we will enable all participants to get in the spotlight, become famous and receive recognition for their skills among the global trading community.
FNG: Who is the target market for financial gaming? Is it largely the existing client base at FX/CFD brokers, or a younger generation which is more into “gaming” in general?
Lars: Our target customer segments are Gen-Zs and partly millennials. TRADANTS will deliver solutions that target gamers and esport players as well as traders and poker players within these generations.
FNG: There seems to be some pushback (mainly in the US) against the “gamification” of financial trading. The feeling is that gaming is great, but financial trading shouldn’t be turned into a game which takes away from the “serious” approach that people ought to have to investing and trading. How does TRADANTS approach that issue?
Lars: We strongly disagree on the ‘serious’ aspect of the topic in different ways. First of all, we don’t think that something serious cannot be turned into a fun and engaging game. Any sport, esport or skill game is a multi-billion dollar industry where players can become superstars, so why should trading be different? Seriousness and gamification are not contradicting per se. Gamification does not mean undermining the complexity of trading but instead gives Gen Zs access to this topic in a fun and engaging environment. On top, our solution is risk-free.
FNG: What else can we expect to hear from TRADANTS in the coming months?
Lars: We will roll out our first prototype and make it available to the public in December. Our first target markets are several English-speaking African countries (including South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana) and the DACH region, our home market. We aim for a Series A in 2022 and hope to share positive feedback with the media in a few months.