Fintech firm Lightyear announced on Wednesday (September 15, 2021) that they’ve acquired an additional $8.5 million in capital. The firm also confirmed the launch of its app as the business begins onboarding UK clients off its waiting list.
Lightyear aims to combine multi-currency accounts with “unlimited access to global markets so customers can invest freely without hidden fees,” according to a release shared with CI.
Founded by early Wise alumni Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, Lightyear intends to bring “a global mindset into the European investment space.”
As stated in the release:
“Traditionally, if European investors wanted access to international markets they have been hit with a range of various fees such as transaction and custody fees, but most notably foreign exchange fees. After removing the friction of sending money abroad during their time at Wise, the pair are looking to do the same with investing.”
The new investment platform aims to “eradicate the ambiguity and unjustifiable fees levied at retail investors.” With platforms charging different fees at varying points of the client journey, they leave “little clarity around the true cost of an investment,” the announcement noted.
Lightyear is on a mission to “flip this pricing model on its head by giving customers the tools to add, hold and invest money in multiple currencies, removing the need for conversions,” the update revealed.
With “unlimited access” to over 1,000 global stocks, Lightyear’s first iteration of the app (its minimum viable product or ‘MVP’) will “start onboarding customers from the waitlist starting today,” the release confirmed.
As previously reported, Lightyear had finalized a $1.5 million pre-seed round from Fintech industry stalwarts, led by Taavet Hinrikus of Wise and Sten Tamkivi of Teleport and Jaan Tallinn (Metaplanet) of Skype. The round also “welcomed Ott Kaukver, the CTO at checkout.com, Wander Rutgers, the former President of Robinhood UK and Kaarel Kotkas, the founder of Veriff,” the announcement noted.
As mentioned in the release:
“The new $8.5M in funding was led by Mosaic Ventures alongside existing investors Taavet+Sten (the recently formed investment partnership of Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi) and Metaplanet. New angel investors coming in this time include early Monzo backer Eileen Burbidge, Harsh Sinha, the CTO at Wise and Taavi Tamkivi, the CEO at Salv.”
Simon Levene, Mosaic co-founder and partner stated that when compared to mature markets like the United States, retail investment across Europe is currently “at the beginning of its growth journey.”
“The customer experience hasn’t really been cracked, and the majority of current offerings serve just their local country. Lightyear’s mission is to offer access to global markets for pan-European investors, providing all the necessary data and education they need — with a simple, transparent business model that removes all the hidden and confusing fee structures.”
He also mentioned that they’re pleased “to support co-founders Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, two veteran execs from TransferWise, at the start of their journey to empower retail investors – experienced and new alike – across the continent.”
Martin Sokk, Co-founder and CEO at Lightyear, remarked:
“10 months ago Lightyear was just an idea, so we’re really excited to have raised a total of $10 million, hired a world-class team and to be launching the first iteration of our app. There are more people in Europe investing now than ever before, but there’s still a very long way to go. Our goal is to give all of Europe access to the world’s markets without hidden fees and to make investing cognitively easy. We’re excited to have such a strong group of investors that share this vision with us.”
Eileen Burbidge, who personally invested as an angel investor in Lightyear, said that when it comes to making investments in early-stage companies, it is “crucial that the team is best in class, that I believe in the sector, and the product has global appeal.”
Eileen also noted:
“We’ve seen more and more people interested in retail investing over the past year and a half, which, combined with this highly motivated, extremely talented and high integrity team, makes for something special. I’m excited by Lightyear’s commitment to transparency and building a platform that’s approachable and inclusive, where everyone has the best access, tools and confidence to invest.”
Starting from today, Lightyear confirmed that it would be onboarding clients from its waiting list that has been “growing since the company came out of stealth mode earlier this summer.”
With its expansion plans underway, Lightyear is “targeting H1 2022 for a pan-European launch, and this latest funding will enable the company to accelerate its plans to open up transparent and low-cost investing to everyone in Europe,” the announcement noted.