U.S.-based crypto startup Abra is adding a new feature to its blockchain-based app that will allow global users to buy portions of traditional investment instruments.
Announcing the news on Wednesday, Abra said the app will utilize the bitcoin blockchain and smart contracts technologies to support fractional investments in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The app already offers investment in 50 fiat currencies and over 30 cryptocurrencies.
“Just as consumers can own a fraction of a bitcoin, they can soon use Abra to own fractions of high-priced stocks and ETFs,” the firm said.
The feature will be made available to investors in over 155 countries, offering zero trading fees for the remainder of 2019 on stock and ETF investments, the firm said, adding that the minimum investment is $5. Interested users can currently sign up for early access on the company website.
For the initial roll-out, Abra said it will offer 50 new investment assets, including stocks from major firms like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, Netflix; commodities like SPDR Gold Trust; ETFs like Vanguard Growth and the S&P 500; and indexes like the Russell 2000.
The app is non-custodial, meaning Abra does not store or have access to user funds. Instead these are stored on the bitcoin blockchain, making transactions “more secure and private than centralized databases used by most crypto exchanges and wallets.” the firm said.
Using a system based on blockchain and smart contracts lets Abra peg the value of “anything with a reliable price feed” to the price of bitcoin, it explained.
The company’s CEO, Bill Barhydt, said:
“We are building bitcoin-backed investing products because, for the first time, we can truly democratize access to investment opportunities at global scale. It shouldn’t matter where you live or how much you earn to be able to make investments and participate in capital markets.”
Founded in 2014, Abra is backed by notable investors including American Express Ventures, Foxconn Technology Group, Arbor Ventures, among others.
Back in October, the firm launched a new token aimed to offer investors more exposure to the cryptocurrency market. The token tracks the top-10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization and essentially allows investors to invest in all ten at once.
Bill Barhydt image via CoinDesk archive; app image courtesy of Abra