Thursday 3 June 2021 8:30 am

Former Wise employees to launch commission-free investment app after $1.5m round

Two early Wise employees are capitalising on the rising demand for commission-free investment apps and have today announced a $1.5m pre-seed round for their own app.

Lightyear, founded by Martin Sokk and Mikhel Aamer, claims to blend multi-currency accounts with unlimited access to markets without hidden fees or charges.

It has today launched its waiting list with plans to launch in the autumn.

It comes after the ex-Wise duo secured a $1.5m pre-seed round led by Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Wise and Sten Tamkivi, co-founder of Teleport as the first portfolio investment of their formalised partnership.

Most things in our lives are available at the tap of a button or with a good internet connection, yet access to global financial markets is still murky and expensive,” Hinrikus said. “The potential here to open up investing for everyone, much further than just their local markets, is very exciting.”

Lightyear is well placed to take advantage of the boom in investing which has emerged during the pandemic. Commission-free apps have earned popularity in recent months in the US but they’ve not made much of a mark in Europe.

But they’re not without controversy. Some companies like Robinhood, which was centre stage at the height of the Gamestop saga, have come under fire for misleading users and “gamifying” investing.

“Having spent my career in financial services, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe retail investing in Europe is still very much ‘the ugly’ – we’re talking about sneaky fees, less access and complicated products remaining as the status quo,” Aamer said.

We’re building something that will change that by opening up investing up to everyone, whichever global market they want to invest in and however much they want to invest.”