Around the Industry: Kapitall

Eric Stahler by on Sep 22, 2015

Founded in 2008 by former video game entrepreneur, Gaspard de Dreuzy, Kapitall Inc. looks to combine the worlds of online gaming and investing. Based in New York City, the new-aged brokerage firm offers an interactive investing platform that boasts the research tools and trade offerings of a traditional brokerage site, paired with the design of a PlayStation game. Users can practice trading through the firm’s virtual portfolio (of up to $100,000), or for more experienced investors, can trade live securities beginning at $7.95 per trade. The firm also offers robo-advised accounts with a $500 minimum that are fee free until 2016, at which point clients will pay an annual 0.50% fee.

Kapitall Public Homepage (Truncated)

Navigation and Design

Aside from the footer stock ticker and Twitter market feed, the firm’s online platform does not fit the mold of a typical brokerage site. All of the site’s features are accessible from the main page, dubbed the “Playground,” which features a cartoon-like sketched background of a cityscape. Instead of a traditional account section, clients can view their current account balance and Koin total (the site’s virtual currency) in the static banner section, which also contains a quick dropdown menu with links to the site’s other areas.

The site’s navigation is also atypical of other brokerage platforms. Rather than scrolling like on a traditional web page, users explore the Playground by dragging the screen over, or by using their keyboard’s arrows. Instead of standard navigation menus, icons scattered across the Playground allow users to access their portfolio, view stock watch lists, research sector performance and view other educational resources. Conveniently, all of the site’s sections appear as pop-up windows within the Playground, allowing users to easily maneuver back and forth between pages. Users can save a variety of modules to their Playground, including securities, which can be traded by dragging into the portfolio icon. One inconvenient aspect of the site’s design, however, is that, except for those of individual stocks which display the stock’s symbol, icons only contain images and are not visibly titled. Clients must open a module to know what the icon is representing, which can be frustrating.

Kapitall’s Playground

Gamification and Competition

In addition to its uncommon design, Kapitall aims to make investing a more enjoyable experience through gamification, friendly competitions and social interaction. To incentivize activity, users are rewarded with Koins, a virtual currency that can be redeemed for merchandise, tools and free commission trades. Koins are primarily earned through investing related activities, like utilizing tools, viewing educational content, trading and partaking in the firm’s monthly Market Masters Tournament (where users compete with $100,000 virtual portfolios). However, clients can also earn Koins through purely recreational activities, like Space Investors, which serve to break up the monotony of researching and trading. Furthermore, like most games in life, Kapitall realizes that investing can be more fun when not done alone. To that end, Kapitall encourages its community of over 170,000 investors to connect and share insights. The firm displays a leadership board of top investors for users to seek out advice from more experienced peers.

Kapitall’s Space Investors Game

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, Kapitall’s integration of online gaming and investing makes a strong appeal to the surging number of millennial investors who have recently entered the world of investing. The playful design and gamification aspects offer fledgling investors a more comfortable and less frightening way to gain investing experience. Kapitall’s platform also focuses on investor education through easy to use research tools, practice virtual portfolios and a community of investors who are encouraged to share advice. Despite the fun and educational components, however, the firm is unlikely to attract many serious or more experienced investors who will likely scoff at the Sims-like design and are uninterested in earning anything other than real-life currency. But for young twenty-somethings looking for a fun way to try their luck in the markets, Kapitall can be a great place to get their feet wet.