Ever fancied being a pseudo-stock trader, without the suits and ties? The Nous-launched virtual trading platform Spark Profit lets you speculate on future prices with real rewards in cash.

Tokyo-based startup Nous today announced a new service to improve its Spark Profit free application that will basically allow traders to make predictions on the Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index for free, with the benefit of earning cash if they accumulate enough points by making correct predictions.

Initially supporting Foreign Exchange and Bitcoin, this announcement means the addition of the firm’s first Equity Index market. More indices are planned to arrive in the coming weeks. Though not specified in the official release, we can speculate that it would involve the NASDAQ Composite or Dow Jones Industrial Average — the other two major indexes in the US.

Also Read: Having awarded US$15K to beta users, free app Spark Profit goes live

Nous has awarded over US$24,000 to its users to date. These rewards are paid for by a unique business model that Nous calls ‘Crowd-sourced Alpha’. Players’ inputs are used to make, and trade upon, their own predictions. The players have no risk of loss because they do not need to pay or invest in the service, but they do have motivation to win because they get real rewards. This also means that players are more likely to take risks that they would not have made in a conventional trading setting.

The revenue comes from large financial trading firms that pay to subscribe to the stream of predictions. The data compiled is useful to assess the crowd mentality behind the market, whether it is bullish or bearish, if there is a large enough sample size of users to draw data from. These firms can then use the insights contained in the data to validate their own trading decisions and increase trading efficiency.

Key difference between Spark Profit and other financial trading apps such as TradeHero is the way that they profit. TradeHero lets users trade on its virtual platform with a US$100,000 starting portfolio, but earns money by subscription. If you want to see how the top traders in TradeHero bring in profit, you would need to pay both, the trader and TradeHero a fee starting from US$1.99.

For the record, Nous was founded in 2012 by Justin Short and four other former high flying Merrill Lynch traders and technologists, who saw an opportunity to help firms understand and predict financial markets, by empowering people around the world to discover and hone their natural trading talents. Short said, “We built Spark Profit so people could discover their hidden talents while doing something valuable in their spare time. Adding the S&P500 index gives everyone an extra opportunity to do just that.”