Jannick Malling and Leif Abraham/Public.com
US investing fintech Public launches in the UK
Public aims to offer UK investors a best-in-class experience for investing in US markets, withover 5,000 US-listed equities, advanced portfolio tools and data, with a transparent, low fee structure.
Public, a US-based consumer fintech offering investments alongside a social network , has launched in the UK.
Founded in 2017 by Jannick Malling and Leif Abraham, from Denmark and Germany, respectively, Public’s launch in the UK represents its first expansion outside the UK.
Abraham told AltFi in an interview this week, that London would act as base for its eventual expansion across Europe.
“Public has always had European roots: my co-founder and I are both European, and we have a team across multiple European countries, including the UK. We’re excited that now it won’t just be the team in Europe and the UK, but the members we serve,” he said.
“We have been nearly four years in the market now and we’ve done a lot of work to strike the balance and have quite a simplistic UX but also a sophisticated and deep enough experience that someone that is quite experienced. That balance is quite unique,” he added.
The launch will include 5,000 US stocks with plans to add more asset classes - ranging from crypto, ETFs and alternatives, in the future.
Like rivals in the fintech space, Public is zero commission and says FX fees are kept competitively low.
"Our first goal with launching Public in the UK is to be the best place to invest in US stocks,” said Dann Bibas, GM of International at Public.
Public also aims to compete on two fronts: firstly it offers extensive data and insights ranging from earnings calls, research reports and company metrics such as cashflow and income statements.
Secondly, it has a strong ‘social’ function that allows users to share information in the manner of social media network that included millions of retail investors.
When you build a community, Leif says, it is very important how you initially set the tone for the culture.
“The culture of a community is incredibly important if it drives health or unhealthy behaviour.”
“Afterwards - 100,000 people or so - it’s very hard to change.”
This includes the level of anonymity you allow users; whether you require real names or not, for example.
“At Public, we are very likely the most verified social network in the world because everyone went through identity verification and KYC.”
“What we’re seeing is people are on their best behaviour and we only need one person doing community moderation in a community of millions”
“We have so little bad behaviour,” he adds.
Backed by Tiger Global in its 2021 Series D funding round when it raised $220m, Public has a valuation of $1.2bn.
In total, it has raised $300m in venture capital funding. Other investors include Accel, Greycroft, Lakestar, and Maria Sharapova, and JJ Watt the NFL star and new owner of Burnley FC.
"London and the broader UK market has always been the financial epicentre of Europe, so it’s a natural place for Public to start our international expansion,” said Leif Abraham, co-CEO and co-founder of Public.
The company makes most of its revenue through stock trading but also has a premium subscription business as well as a B2B arm called Pulse that helps public companies and ETF issuers to engage with retail investors.
“Pulse is very early but you can think of it as retail investor relations. As a public company you are meant give your best efforts so all your investors access to the same information.
The reality is most public companies are having calls with banking analysts all of the time and so what we have done is create formats for public companies and ETF issuers to help CEOS for example go on virtual ‘townhalls’ and answer questions,” he added.
It stopped participating in Payment for Order Flow (PFOF) as a source of revenue in early 2021 in the wake of the Gamestop short squeeze.
Public operates through a number of financial infrastructure partnerships including New-York based broker/dealer the Dalmore Group for stock trading, Bakkt Crypto Solutions and Jiko Securities for dealing US Treasuries.