Startup trading app outfit Nous has added bitcoin to the list of currencies players can bet on through its FX-forecasting game, Spark Profit.
Officially launched in January after several months of beta testing, the free-to-play game - available on desktops and via Android and iOS apps - asks players to make higher/lower predictions on various currencies.
Players pick up points for good trades which can then be cashed in at the end of the week. Nous has signed up around 20,000 players, paying out a total of more than $16,000 to 841 high performers. CEO Justin Short told Finextra at this week's Finovate event that these top players earn up to $20 a week, and are mainly based in India, the Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Users can bet on the US dollar, euro, yen, sterling and, now, bitcoin, the volatile crypto-currency which seen its value tank in the last couple of weeks. Short says that the addition has been made partly to entertain users over the weekend when traditional financial markets are closed.
Short is a former director at Merrill Lynch in Japan who set up Nous with ex-colleagues in 2012 using their own funds.
The partners hope to make money by bundling the prediction data from the game's highest-performing players -"crowd-sourced alpha" - into its four market-data feeds and selling these on to financial institutions and hedge funds. No client wins have yet been revealed.
Says Short: "Firms could use these signals in a number of ways. We expect people will be interested in using them either as a primary input, or maybe initially as a secondary input to a strategy they already have─for example, if they are looking for short-term optimisation."