Richard Branson backs a $25M funding in Lightyear, a stock trading startup that aims to become Europe’s answer to Robinhood
You all probably remember Robinhood, the controversial commission-free stock trading app that blocked Reddit Army from trading Gamestop and AMC stocks back in April 2021. Robinhood also restricted thousands of retail investors from trading Dogecoin.
The notorious fintech startup has since lost over 75% of its value since going public in July 2021. Sensing an opportunity, one UK fintech startup is hoping to become Europe’s answer to Robinhood but without all the negatives.
Enter Lightyear, a London-based fintech startup that promises retail investors commission-free trading on European and US stocks. This week, the startup officially extends its global footprint and expands its presence across Europe.
The expansion will land Lightyear in 19 new markets, including 19 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
To support the expansion, Lightyear announced it has raised $25 million in a Series A round of funding led by Lightspeed, a U.S. venture capital firm, with participation from other high-profile backers including additional backing from British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
Founded in 2021 by Estonian entrepreneurs Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, Lightyear touts a “simple and approachable way to invest your money globally without unnecessary barriers and fees” as its unique selling proposition.
Since its launch in the UK market last year, Lightyear said 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.
Lightyear Co-founder and CEO at Lightyear Martin Sokk said in a statement: “Nine months ago, we launched our app in the UK to initial waitlisters. Fast forward to now, and we’ve secured a European license 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. We’re so excited to welcome Nicole and Lightspeed, alongside the Virgin Group, onto our strong bench of investors that share this vision with us and have such deep experience in growing successful businesses from the very start of their journey.”
The one-year-old fintech startup currently offers commission-free trading in over 3,000 global stocks and multi-currency accounts. The two co-founders previously worked at Wise, the U.K.-listed money transfer firm before founding Lightyear.
Commenting on the funding, Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, said: “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.”