Last week, I wrote about Kalengo, a site that enables investors to plan, research and invest using social intelligence from the cloud.  Kalengo is a U.S. firm with R&D in Asia.

What’s interesting is that I’ve also interviewed the Antony Ma, founder of investomy_logoInvestomy platform — another social investing site with roots in Asia.  This is not pure coincidence as I believe that the demand for such services and maturity of financial markets in Asia is promoting these types of startups.  Investomy comprises of an English-Chinese site along with an Investomy Facebook app.

I like what Investomy is doing and it directly plays into everything that Tradestreaming my book is all about.


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What is Investomy?
Antony Ma, Founder: Facebook is a platform for sharing life moments and is very personal. Investomy is designed with an objective to replicate the user experiences in Facebook but enable users to share their investment experiences, which are more business oriented and rational.  Investment (stock, fund, FX etc) is part of city life for many people. Sharing investment ideas via financial news and price charts are core functions of Investomy.

Tell me about your work history.
AM: I started my career at the Internet boom and developed online shopping applications and payment gateways. Then I noticed IT security was the next challenge when Internet became universal to every business.  I developed my career in the IT security and risk control domain. I was responsible for IT audit and compliance in various banks (Development Bank of Singapore, HangSeng Bank, Bank of China (HK)).

I also participate in industrial and community services, currently holding the following positions:

  1. Chairman at Professional Information Security Association
  2. Delegate to International Standard Organisation (ISO) IT Security Committee
  3. Founding Fellow of International Federation Of Creativity And Technology

You may notice none of them are directly related to Investment or financial advisory.  This “status”  enables me to look at financial information with an investor’s point of view and develop a online community with more focus on retail investors — which I believe want more control over their investments than in the past.

What is the current state of online investing in China?  Social investing?
AM: China has two very different investment environments: the Hong Kong investment market is open, has a longer history and many institutional players.  The ShangHai investment market is closed, relatively young and retail investor play a bigger role.

Online investments in both environments are very popular. Many different types of devices are used for stock price quote and order entry. Online trading is well developed in both HK and ShangHai.

Discussion forums are a very popular form of social investing in both markets. Many financial information providers provide discussion forum functions on their websites. Financial blogs are also popular.

Why launch Investomy now? Is there something about what’s happening in China that makes this very interesting right now?
AM: Two key developments in HK have created favorable conditions for an online investment community. First, the availability of free real-time stock quotes which enable more investors to discuss price related materials. Second, beginning next year, Hong Kong citizens can switch fund houses for their pensions which creates a large demand for investment advice and information sharing.

What tools do Chinese investors typically use to research investments?  How do they transact normally?
AM: Tools are part of our strategy. Two years ago, value investing was popular. However, when many blue chip stocks fell to unreasonable prices in 2008, many people begin to doubt a long term strategy. Currently, technical analysis is getting more popular.

Why launch also in English?
AM: This is a very interesting question. English together with Chinese are the two official languages in legal and business contexts. All company annual reports, fund reports and statements are available in dual languages. English content is readily available.

HK investment markets closely follow global trends. Also the percentage of overseas investors increased for the last four years according to the stock exchange.We believe Hong Kong is a market place for global investors to invest in China market.

Because of these, Investomy believes an English website will help local & global investors to collaborate together.

What do you think are the most interesting Chinese investing sites/companies?
AM: There are many investment websites in China but the most interesting usage of Internet for investment is QQ, which is an instant message (like AIM or MSN Messenger). QQ is the prevalent tool in sharing investment ideas and even insider information.  Many stock brokers use QQ to send messages to their clients.

How are investors using Investomy today?  What are some of your plans for the future?
AM: We are now concentrating on building a community of investors and via constant dialogue, we continue to improve our website according to their usage demands.  We also developed a Facebook game (http://apps.facebook.com/investomy) that enables users to invest with virtual money and share investment ideas.

Next will be to enable users to have peer-to-peer support via our web services (discussion groups, chat and collaborative editing).

Thanks, Antony.

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