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Richard Branson invests in Estonian-founded stock trading app Lightyear

Lightyear, an Estonian-founded stock trading app, has raised $25 million from Richard Branson’ Virgin Group and Silicon Valley based VC firm Lightspeed.

Today, the Estonian-founded investment platform Lightyear announced the raising of $25M in the Series A round from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and the company’s seed investors: Mosaic Ventures, Taavet+Sten, and Metaplanet.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group says: “For too long, financial markets have been overly complex with high barriers to entry and confusing jargon. Martin, Mihkel and the Lightyear team are lifting the lid on the world of investing – making it more transparent whilst empowering people through education – to choose the products which are right for them.”

Lightyear, founded by ex-Wise duo Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, combines multi-currency accounts with unlimited access to global markets so customers can invest without hidden fees.

“Nine months ago, we launched our app in the UK to initial waitlisters,” Martin Sokk, co-founder and CEO of Lightyear says. “Fast forward to now, and we’ve secured a European licence that enables us to launch across the continent and raised one of the largest Series A rounds in 2022. But, our goal remains the same: to give all of Europe access to the world’s markets without hidden fees and to make investing easy for everyone.”

Lightyear founders Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer

Traditionally, if investors in Europe want access to international markets they are hit with transaction and custody fees, but most notably, hidden foreign exchange fees. With their multi-currency accounts, where you can add, hold and invest in different currencies, Lightyear seamlessly bridges the gaps between international markets for customers.

The fresh funding comes at the same time as Lightyear’s expansion into 19 European markets, just nine months after it launched in the UK. The European launch enables customers now access thousands of US and European stocks in addition to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Countries part of this first European rollout include Ireland, the Baltics and most of Western Europe such as Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands and France.

Since launching to the UK market last year, Lightyear has tripled its stock universe, launched an industry-first social investment feature – Lightyear Profiles – and added a suite of new products and features to bolster its data and education offering, all accessible in the app for free. From professional analyst ratings and price targets to live news feeds without paywalls, Lightyear customers have access to a wealth of information before making an investment decision.

“Having lived and worked on both sides of the pond, I’ve seen first-hand the pain points for Europeans trying to access the financial markets as easily as their counterparts in the US. Lightyear is trying to fix this with a platform that customers not only love and trust, but one that understands the nuances between different regulations, languages, exchanges and cultural investing norms,” says Nicole Quinn, Partner at Lightspeed. “There is no single neobroker offering products across the continent right now, and the potential is enormous,” Quinn believes.

From today, Lightyear will be onboarding customers from the following 19 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.

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