One of the major trends in the online trading world over the past few years has been that of simplifying the trading process in order to allow more people to get involved. One facet of this has been social trading, exemplified by platforms such as Saxo’s Tradingfloor or eToro’s OpenBook. Another has been to gamify the process, boiling down complex concepts into simpler, easier to understand ways, and providing a competitive element that is often lacking when using trading platforms in demo mode.
The trend was kickstarted with the launch of the first eToro platform in 2007, which incorporated graphic trading visualisations which conceptualised the markets as being, for example, a race between currencies or a tug of war. The latest entrant into this field is a tablet app called ‘Beat Wall Street’, which takes the process of market speculation out of the real world and into an altogether more welcoming virtual one.
Players begin the game with one free portfolio, and they can trade big-name European stocks across nine industries, going long or short. Whoever makes the most money at the end of a competition is the winner.
Although it is a highly simplified version of the real trading experience, it is entirely based on the reality of the stock market, using realtime quotes from Bats CHI-X. This realism is what makes it a highly useful tool for teaching the basics of trading, and it is already being used in over 500 schools for this purpose.
While the main competition, which involves all the players of the game, is the main event with the big cash prizes, there are also lots of smaller competitions, and users can create their own contests and challenge friends or colleagues. The team challenge mode, in which teams of a minimum of five traders compete against one another, may be of particular interest to schools, as it will enable finance schools to compete for bragging rights over the proficiency of their student traders in much the same way as school sports teams do.
The Trading Console
In many ways, the main trading console resembles that which you might see on a regular trading platform, with a list of stocks along with a few key attributes such as price, price change in currency and percentage terms, and trading volume, along with the option to buy or sell.
There are no complicated trade orders here – you simply buy if you think it’s going to go up, and sell if you think it’s going to go down. However, position sizes can be altered in step-size increments, so you can still use techniques such as scaling in and out of trades.
You can also filter the equities by industry and country, and sort them by attributes so that, for example, you see all the most expensive stocks at the top, or the ones with the biggest trading volume.
Reports and analysis
Rather than requiring you to leave the app to visit the Bloomberg website, for example, Beat Wall Street provides its own reporting and analysis on the stocks that are available to trade.
This feature provides information about the company in question, price charts, and a host of useful statistics to help inform your trades. Of course, it can pay to be more thorough and look at other sources of insight and data, but all the basics are here.
Where you rank in the game is largely dependent on the return from your portfolio. At the start of the game, you have a million dollars, and if you make a $100,000 profit, you will have a 10% return. The player that has the highest return at the end of the game is the winner.
These rankings update every 15 minutes during European market hours, and the game ends each month with all the stocks being sold automatically. After the end of the game, the next trading day begins with everyone having the same amount of money that they started with.
Points are also awarded for completing various tasks in the game, such as winning challenges or trophies. They also accumulate the more you play, and the amount of trades that you make, thereby incentivising regular involvement.
The high score section of the app allows you to see your previous results, and those of your rivals. These results can be shared via Twitter or Facebook, which can help to bring more of your friends into the game and allow you to bask in your achievements.
The game itself is free to download, and while there are in-app purchases available, these do not give you any advantages in the game. Instead, they give you options to make the game more interesting and test your skills in a different way, with options to buy extra portfolios, combine all your portfolios into one, or reset your portfolio.
Beat Wall Street is a fantastic learning and teaching tool for those engaged in trading education, streamlining the stock trading experience in such a way to make the important things more obvious. So, if you fancy your chances on the stock market, but you just want to enjoy it without getting bogged down in the details, then it is well worth downloading. You can find it at the App Store or Google Play, and you can also follow @BeatWallStreet on Twitter to find out the latest news and game-related chatter.