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Y Combinator-backed Thndr receives first new Egyptian brokerage license in ten years

The company has developed a stock trading platform that is similar to Robinhood.

Thndr's founders. Courtesy of Thndr via MENAbytes.

Thndr, a Cairo-based investment platform that wants to make it easy for people to invest in stocks, bonds, and funds without charging any commission, has received a brokerage license to operate in Egypt, the company said in a statement sent to MENAbytes. Thndr claims that this is the first new license issued by Egypt’s Financial Regulatory Authority since 2008.

“Issuing a license to a tech company is a testament to the regulator’s strong commitment to seek modern methodologies to enhance the investment landscape in Egypt,” said the startup in a statement provided to MENAbytes.

Founded in 2019 by Uber Egypt’s former general manager Ahmad Hammouda, Thndr is starting with a Robinhood-like mobile-first equities trading platform that enables people to invest in stocks in The Egyptian Exchange. Thndr’s mobile app has been live on Play Store and App Store for a few months, but it previously only offered a virtual environment for users to learn how to use the app. They were offered with virtual money to experience what investing in stocks would be like through the app.

Ahmad Hammouda, the co-founder and CEO of Thndr, said, “Our vision is to put wealth in the hands of everyday individuals. With the rise of technology, and the foresight of a very supportive Financial Regulatory Authority, we can make this vision come to life—Egypt is expected to be the seventh largest economy by 2030 and has more than 100 million people, most of which are young and are looking for a convenient and digital way to invest their money. That’s why we are excited to bring a new breed of young investors to the market.”

After receiving the license last week, Thndr has finally opened up for real trading accounts. Users can sign up for a trading account by using the app. Once the account is approved, they can use different methods to invest in stocks.

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MENAbytes has been using the app in the last few weeks and finds it easy to navigate. Users can see different types of data, including recent news about any particular stock on The Egyptian Exchange. The account application form also looks intuitive and stocks can be purchased or sold in a few taps.

The startup currently offers three plans for investors. The basic option is free, while paid plans start from EGP 15 (about a dollar) per month. Just like Robinhood, trades on all plans of Thndr, including the free tier, are commission-free. It said that it is pioneering the concept of commission-free trading with no account minimums in the region.

Seif Amr, the co-founder of Thndr, said, “Through Thndr, we are looking to remove all barriers and friction that users face throughout their investment journey—whether it relates to account-opening, associated costs, access to resources, or ease of use. We are starting with Egyptian equities, but we intend to quickly introduce alternative investment options to suit different risk-reward and involvement preferences.”

Pre-seed investment

Thndr also broke its silence about its pre-seed round that closed in December last year. It confirmed that it is part of Y Combinator’s S20 batch and will present at their demo day later this month. Thndr’s pre-seed round included Y Combinator, 4DXVentures, Endure Capital, The Raba Partnership, and MSA Capital as investors. It also had participation of individual investors, including Tom Stafford, who is a managing partner at DST Global.

The Egyptian fintech company did not disclose the size of investment.

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Peter Orth, co-founder and managing partner at 4DX Ventures, said, “Savings and investing is a critical part of building wealth and economic development, and Egypt’s youth needs a mobile-first platform like Thndr to open the floodgates of investing in the coming decades. Platforms like Thndr have seen great success in other markets across the world, and Thndr is built with keen attention to the local nuances and preferences of the Egyptian investor in mind.”

“We believe that Hammouda and the rest of the team at Thndr are the ideal group to build this business in the region, and we’re very excited to partner with them in achieving their important mission,” he added.

Robinhood, the American commission-free trading platform, has revolutionized stock trading in the United States. It has raised USD 200 million in fresh funds earlier this week in a round that valued the company at USD 11.2 billion, making it a member of the exclusive decacorn club. Founded in 2013, Robinhood has raised USD 1.7 billion in total funding to date.

Egypt is a completely different market, but we’ve seen similar investment platforms do well in some other parts of the world as well, including India. And Thndr is just starting with Egyptian equities. As the founders said, they want to introduce alternative investment options in the future.

This article first appeared in MENAbytes.