Case study: a new approach to financial trading gaming with TraderPeople.

Jonathan Rose and Chris Hobcroft are the founders of TraderPeople, an online social gaming business that provides fantasy and simulated financial trading games. In this case study, Jonathan and Chris discuss what makes their business attractive and how they utilise its core worth to add further value.

Between them, TraderPeople founders Jonathan and Chris have 20 years’ experience in financial services, trading and the technology sectors. The games devised by the entrepreneurial duo have been developed over the last 12 months and leverage their core trading system, which has been developed over the last five years. This core trading system has allowed some of the world’s leading financial establishments to trade real money on the global financial markets.

In December 2011, they launched their first product, Traderversity, which was the world’s first free-to-play financial trading game with real-time prices, aimed exclusively at the UK student sector, bringing a whole new interactive dimension to online trading games.

The pair simultaneously launched TraderPlay, a similar game accessible to all end users, to act as a demonstration of the capabilities of their platform to potential partners and clients.

Jonathan Rose, co-founder of TraderPeople, says: “From our own experiences we identified a need in the market for a new dimension to trading games. There are some similar offerings out there but we wanted to create a more interactive gaming system, which was as life-like and dynamic as possible. Other trading games are based on spreadsheet trading but ours is different in that it uses real-time prices.

“Between us, we have worked with Blenheim Chalcot [they funded the company] for 10 years, and in January 2011 we noticed that a lot of our friends and colleagues were interested in finding out more about the global economy and trading, but had no way of learning, without engaging in an MBA or a course on finance. The turbulence in the global economy had brought this to the front of peoples’ minds, but to many of them, a lot of it remained a complete mystery.

“By September we had a beta version being trialed and in December we launched Traderversity and TraderPlay. We tested the game on friends, family, work colleagues, and refined the systems before going live. Feedback was very positive and many welcomed the idea of learning about the financial trading scene.

“We are planning to launch mobile apps and develop the games to give users the ability to personalise their own space and set up their own tournaments against friends. We’re also looking at developing an in-game chat function to make our games fully interactive as well as international versions for global gamers.”

In order to bolster their potential market, the company allows their services to be re-skinned and configured to create distinctive trading games for companies, hosted by TraderPeople. The games can be individualised based on the target users and can vary in complexity, competitions and levels of socialising within the game play, to encourage effective engagement with users.

The team is able to integrate the game into external business websites, maintaining the look and feel of the company, or can be delivered as a standalone site with its own domain name and branding, depending on the individual needs of the client. This ‘white labelling’ is important to the founders, as it allows their platform – the core worth of their business – to be rolled out in as many different areas of possible.

In addition to making money, the founders want to see TraderPeople educate the public on how financial markets worth and restore consumer confidence in making informed investment decisions.

Jonathan says: “We have witnessed a global gamification of the financial markets and we can now create educational, social trading games based on real world trading activity. Financial markets have been historically viewed as inaccessible, with a perception that they are too complicated for the everyday person. Since the recession, trust in banking institutions, and the stock market has declined massively, and caused a negative impact on how the nation views the markets. Perhaps the positive outcome here, is that people have started to question what exactly it all entails, and are more inclined to want to throw their own hat in the ring, and trading games are a perfect way to do this, risk-free.

“When looking at what else was out there, we saw only over simplified alternatives that didn’t reflect the reality of what was truly happening on the market. Worryingly, we also saw many ‘games’ that were merely sales tools for businesses, which actually called for users to take a punt on their own money. Our games are fun and engaging, easy to understand, simple to sign up to and importantly, not distorted by advertising. They are easy to dip in and out of and allow users to make informed, quick trading decisions.

“We want to educate people on how to invest their funds wisely and hope that by teaching some of the basics of trading, people’s confidence in making their own real financial investments will grow. We feel that the public’s awareness and knowledge of financial trading is in need of an overhaul and we have developed an innovative way to teach people about the marketplace and how to make informed trading decisions.