Yoni Assia, co-founder and CEO of eToro, entered the finance industry early. After receiving stock as a bar mitzvah gift, he became a successful trader while still in high school. Those profits largely disappeared as the dot-com bubble burst just as he was beginning his military service. That would turn out to be the first of a number of dramatic highs and lows Assia has seen in his career.
In this episode of Cointelegraph’s Crypto Stories, Assia recounts the early days of eToro and the launch of crypto trading on the platform — which a young programmer named Vitalik Buterin helped with.
In 2007, trading platforms were “super complex. You always looked at multiple screens and lots of numbers,” Assia said. Manual processes were still part of opening a brokerage account, and it took several days. But eToro was founded on a different model, one where the user downloaded the software, funded the account with a credit card and started trading.
The global economic crisis hit the following year, but the new company prospered in spite of it. “We learned […] that crisis actually generates a lot of internet interest in what is happening in finance,” Assia said.
Assia discovered Bitcoin (BTC) in 2010, saying:
“I saw the opportunity to turn the entire financial industry into a blockchain industry, and we started with the concept of ‘let’s tokenize assets on top of the Bitcoin protocol.’”
That’s where Buterin came in.
EToro introduced Bitcoin trading a month before the Mt. Gox collapse sent the price plummeting from $1,200 to $150. A mere 2% of customers traded crypto then, but that figure had climbed to 90% by 2017.
The portfolios of eToro’s 32 million registered users are visible on the platform, allowing customers to see what other traders hold and what their investment strategies are.