Serious play for the professionally minded

First and foremost, this article requires a parental warning: this one is not for the kids. Some apps are just not appropriate for juvenile use and what we are about to discuss is one of them. But don’t worry, there’s nothing here that would embarrass your maiden aunt. What we are talking about here is what is known as Financial Spread Betting (FSB).

Some apps are for business and some apps are for pleasure, there aren’t many that manage to fall into both camps. Maybe that’s not surprising, work and play are different ends of the scale after all. But there are some folk who like to take their work to play, or – to put it the other way round – who like to combine their leisure with the accumulation of treasure.


by Lars Plougmann

But these serious-minded folk tend not to be too impressed with fantasy fortunes. They are more interested in cold hard currency in the real world, and it is precisely these cash-conscious types that financial spread betting is designed to appeal to.

One part gaming experience and one part investment platform, FSB offers the prospect of serious play with equally serious financial implications. FSB is betting for the big boys.

How it works is that a simple app from one of the numerous specialist providers will allow you to enter into the world of stock and currency markets in a way that is instantly affordable – most bets are just a matter of a couple of dollars/pounds – but that can at the same time have quite dramatic outcomes.

If we take the Tradefair brand as an example, the app allows you to see share price moves and shifts in currency values in real time. What you are watching are real-market moves. All of a sudden you are in the same position as a full-time professional trader. The only difference is, you can speculate in amounts that are easily affordable. That distinction aside, there is little to choose between the experience of FSB and that of an actual trader.

Ever more in-depth analytics and charts produce market histories and trading patterns just as up-to-the-minute news feeds bring you the very latest insight into markets the world over. The benefit which that brings to the serious would-be investor is that he or she is not limited to the times when their domestic markets are trading. With more than 3,800 markets to choose from around the world, there is something happening somewhere that is bound to catch your interest.

As you might expect with an offering that sits on the margins of work and play, there are different interfaces that cater for different levels of engagement. For example, Tradefair offers three different platforms designed to fulfil very different playing modes. There is a professional PC-based download that replicates the full range of data streams enjoyed by full-time traders, there is a more limited website that offers an immediate, if slightly less comprehensive trading platform, and there is a phone app that enables play on the go. Inevitably this is more limited than the other two, but the same fundamental ability to trade at the click of a button is constant.

FSB is a derivative-based product which means that bets are dynamically scaled against an initial stake. It can lead to rapid profits, but – and here’s the bit that really makes it one for the serious minded – losses work the same way. If your bet goes south and keeps going south, your losses can mount rapidly.

It makes for a highly-charged and exciting gaming experience. Players are able to cash out whenever they want, so there is no sense of simply being at the mercy of the market. Players are at all points actively engaged.

FSB is not something that you can just pick up and run with, it is targeted at a very specific constituency of people with an interest in the financial markets. It does take some homework for the newbie. It is, however, delivered with impeccable UX functionality and an impressive level of professional sophistication. Tradefair have a demo app that will give you a flavour without the cash component. Try it for yourself – it’s not for kids but it is kind of compulsive.