The explosion of retail activity on app-based platforms has created a new sense of responsibility for fintech players in education. They create tools to speed up the pace of learning for investors to ensure they don’t end up burning their fingers in the market. Kolkata-based StockEdge co-founder Vinay Pagaria recounts Amrita Singh how technology empowers new and old investors by taking the complexity out of learning. Edited excerpts:
As a fintech player in education, what was the idea behind StockEdge?
StockEdge was launched in 2016 with the idea of empowering retail investors. We provide in-depth data analytics in a very simple format so ordinary investors can make informed decisions. Recently, we also launched a service that allows investors to trade using StockEdge through their respective broker. For this, we have partnered with 14 different brokers, either directly or through a gateway, so that people who have formed their wanted notice can place their trades directly from the StockEdge platform.
Can technology help people intimidated by the vast lexicon of financial terms and the years it takes to master them?
Until now, most retail investors have only tracked stock names and prices. Someone would tell them XYZ stock is doing great, buy it – that’s all they knew. We’ve always believed, however, that retail investors have the ability to be smart themselves, provided we can take the complexity out of the learning process. If we can provide them with the right information, with just a click on their mobile phone, they can observe, track, analyze and begin to understand the nuances of how the market works. StockEdge provides an integrated learning and analysis platform that gradually makes an investor more informed and confident in their stocks. For any financial concept an investor encounters in the app, they can simply click on an ‘i’ icon next to the term and get a quick explanation of the concept, along with a short how-to video.
How do you take the complexity out of learning?
We have a variety of tools that make stock research as easy as asking a question. One can simply get answers to questions like which companies in India are consistently increasing their revenue or which stocks are showing an uptrend. To make it simple for everyone, we have all these questions and their answers pre-compiled for our users. This allows investors to (a) easily identify stocks to invest in and (b) determine how their own stocks are doing.
For example, many companies hold a conference call every quarter. Most people rarely have the time to participate in these calls or read the full transcripts. We have begun publishing conference call summaries which provide a two-page summary of the discussions. These reports also come with sentiment tracking to identify the underlying tone of the discussions. So we have this artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can analyze financial terms in the report and track sentiment throughout the document to tell investors if the overall mood is positive or negative.
How do you leverage technology, especially AI and machine learning (ML), in the learning process?
We believe in the synthesis of artificial intelligence and human intelligence. We have identified use cases where ML or AI can be used to drive real value for an investor. For example, we made it easier to track big investors like Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Companies publish details of their shareholding quarterly, but these shareholder names have many spelling errors. Also, a large investor may have family members who are corporate shareholders. We took all of this data and then trained our ML tools to be able to compile the consolidated shareholding of these celebrity investors. One can easily track where they raise their bet, where they cash out and use this information to form their own opinion.
Who is the platform for and has the market correction put people off learning?
Our typical user is the working professional who spends an average of 15 minutes on the app — and usage peaks after 7 p.m. We have over 2 million registered users. Nearly 80% of basic data and analytics are available for free, and premium analytics are provided as part of a subscription plan.
Although the markets have corrected a little, people experiencing losses also realize the importance of knowledge and often begin to learn more through online videos, courses and analytical tools during these times.
Indian households have one of the lowest equity exposures in the world, at around 14%. How can technology help improve this number?
The trend is upward. More people from Tier II and III cities are entering the market than ever before. Mobile lockdown and penetration has increased awareness among new users and using the right technology can empower many more people. We wanted to make StockEdge accessible to the vernacular audience. By using the right combination of translation and transliteration algorithms, we were able to offer the entire app in Hindi and Bengali.
We have seen a marked increase in the number of Hindi speaking users on the platform. Patna and Lucknow are among the major cities where our users are located. We intend to achieve true Bharat and empower existing and new investors.