You might not be a clairvoyant, but new free app Spark Profit developed by Tokyo-based startup Nous.net might just be your thing. Dubbed by its CEO Justin Short as “totally free trading”, the platform pays its users real money for predicting market trends. Having been in beta throughout 2013, the app is finally live on iOS and Android devices.
In an official statement, Nous.net claims that it has awarded “US$15,000 to players in 70 countries”. Short told e27, “We saw the potential to shake up the financial industry, provide an opportunity for people to learn new skills and earn additional incomes, all at the same time.”
The goal of playing with the real-time market prediction game app is to win points for making correct predictions, and avoid losing points for making bad predictions. After players hit a certain weekly target, the more points they earn, they more money they receive. Short said that some points are then carried over to the next week. He added, “We do not have stocks in the app right now, but they will be added.”
At the moment, the company uses PayPal to reward its users, but it plans to add Skrill and Bitcoin in the near future. In fact, Spark Profit added Bitcoin predictions in September 2013 to allow players variety when other financial markets are shut. He explained, “… Bitcoin is such an unusual financial instrument – people are still figuring out what the value of a bitcoin really should be. We hope to have as many people predicting Bitcoin as actually trading it!”
Short also sees a “huge potential for people in developing countries” where going online is a new and fresh experience for many. In 2014, users can look forward to new market, social features and tools to help them analyse and improve predictions.
He was also quick to point out how Spark Profit is different from financial trading apps such as TradeHero and StockRadars. He said, “One key difference is the way we profit (and therefore pay our users) — by using our considerable financial experience to trade our own money.”
Interestingly, Nous’ profits come from what is known as a ‘crowd-sourced alpha’ business model, which uses players’ inputs to trade in real markets. He added, “This innovation ensures that players have no risk of loss because they do not need to pay or invest in the service.”
The risk does sound a tad excessive for a young startup, but seeing how the free app has made enough to award users with US$15,000, there must be some truth in it. In reality, Short has had 16 years of building automated trading systems for blue-chip investment banks, which helps him and his team identify good trading signals.
He added that most of these competitors “only seem to reward the top few players” while Spark Profit aims to pay everyone “who does sufficiently well”. In addition, the service unlocks new features with tutorials, so users actually get educated about what they’re supposed to be doing.
Nous.net was incorporated in 2012, and has five full-timers at the moment.