AWS Startups Blog

Keeping It Simple: 8 Securities CEO Mikaal Abdulla on Value and Data in Fintech

With booming growth and a focus on innovation, the fintech industry is clearly poised to see significant advancements in the near future. As customers—especially younger generations—gravitate toward the ease and efficiency of mobile options to satisfy their financial needs, even large institutions have begun adapting to meet demand by offering digital documentation and app-based banking functionality. Still, no one in the industry would argue that many of the nimblest new products come from the startup world, where forward-thinkers can build from the ground up.

8 Securities, a mobile-only investment service based in Hong Kong, is one such company looking to change the paradigm of finance. “Very simply, we are in the business of putting trading and wealth management in people’s pockets,” explains CEO and cofounder Mikaal Abdulla. “Ultimately, it’s making investing simple and affordable.”

As former executives at E*Trade, Abdulla and cofounder Mathias Helleu have had a deep understanding of the fintech industry since “before it was called fintech,” Abdulla points out. They’ve seen business priorities shift from brick-and-mortar services to web-based functionality, and they jumped at the opportunity to push that innovation further. “It’s an evolution from advice to online to mobile, now. And that’s our focus: 100 percent mobile.”

One of 8 Securities’ primary goals is bringing younger investors into the Asian investment market. “Our target market is millennials, so our average customer today is under thirty years old,” says Abdulla. This isn’t your typical investor demographic. “I would say the average customer for our traditional competitors is probably pushing sixty.” 8 Securities hopes to challenge this statistic in Hong Kong and Japan, where the company’s services are offered. As Abdulla explains, “While in the US there’s an emergence of new brokers like Robinhood or Wealthfront or Betterment, in Asia there’s nothing. There’s nobody targeting that young customer, the next generation of wealth, so that’s really the opportunity we saw.”

But even in the flashy world of fintech, 8 Securities ultimately wants to provide its customers with long-term solutions. “You’ll never hear us talk about outperforming the market, because I think it’s irresponsible,” says Abdulla. “What you’ll hear us talking more about is risk and how to mitigate risk, and education. We’re always talking about long-term investing.” Abdulla emphasizes that today’s young investors value clarity. “People don’t want complexity; they want simplicity.”

Not only is 8 Securities breaking boundaries in terms of customer demographics, it’s also transforming the status quo of traditional investment business models. “We are now announcing a subscription model. We’re going to get into crypto trading for those that want it. Unlimited fund management, the whole traditional AUM fee disappears, goes away,” Abdulla explains. Personalized, unlimited service is one thing, but young customers also expect a seamless user experience and manageable advice. “We have our marquee app now, and all we focus on, everything on the road map, is about adding value for customers in that app. So, you might see us launch new features, but not products.” 8 Securities is “keeping it simple, focusing on making this app better and better.”

Moving forward, according to Abdulla, 8 Securities has its eye on data aggregation, analysis, and sharing among subscribers. In terms of the future of investment services, “I think it’s using data for the benefit of the community, and simply put, I think it’s data science,” he says. For example, “If I’m a customer of 8 Securities, wouldn’t it be interesting to know what the top 10 percent of the community is doing in order to be successful in the long term? What does their diversification look like? What positions are they in? When did they get in?” 8 Securities plans to provide this kind of responsibly sourced data to its customers while maintaining all subscribers’ privacy and the security of sensitive information.

8 Securities’ ambitions certainly seem appealing to investors, both at the personal and corporate level. “I think we’re on to something now, and the business is growing. We’ve raised $60 million in investment to date,” says Abdulla. “For us, it’s good validation.”

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung currently works in startup content at AWS and was previously the head of content at Index Ventures. Prior to joining the corporate world, Michelle was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the founding Business Editor at the Huffington Post, a correspondent for The Boston Globe, a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and a writer at Entertainment Weekly.