Well, what can go wrong?

Smartly was probably the first on the robo-advisor scene back in 2016, and of course I blogged about it. Got into the beta later in the same year too, but progress was slow.

Competition came, and finally everyone was pushed/forced to roll out their product.

On one hand, you want to launch as soon as possible to gain first-mover advantage and grab as much market share as you can.

On the other hand, you risk exposing the flaws and problems associated with a platform that is not fully tested – which can devastate user confidence because they can and will associate bugs, however cosmetic or trivial they might be on the UI side, to the backend where the real work is done. Doubts will then begin to form, even when the back-end is 100% fine, because the user can’t see that.

As the asset under management grows, a strong tech team will be able to shine in terms of maximizing efficiency and lowering costs.

A word of advice – as a digital advisory platform, your website is your shopfront. Make sure it is a ridiculously, freaking good one. No matter how good your team and system is, it doesn’t matter if no one clicks the sign up button.

Unfortunately, that’s when Smartly remained dormant for the longest time – even a basic feature such as historical reports took ages to come online. I eventually got my first report in Feb 2018. Even till today, reports prior to Feb 2018 remained inaccessible.

While blog posts started coming online at the end of Jan 2018, I wasn’t convinced enough by the platform and withdrew my money in Mar 2018. I still have $0.13 in the account, and I log in from time to time to check on it.

In comparison, AutoWealth and StashAway were making huge strides. So, what happened to Smartly? At one point in time (2017), it looked like the CEO, Artur Luhaäär was involved at Change as a partner. Yup, right when crypto was getting hot. It appears that what Smartly was really working on was this – Smartly Crypto Robo Advisor.

For our existing platform – Robo advisor for traditional assets, we will continue to improve our platform and services to serve you better.

Seeing how little the platform has changed (stuff that were initially touted such as educational games etc no longer seem to be relevant) since launch, I’m afraid little effort would be devoted to the existing platform. I hope I’m wrong.

Anyway, back to Smartly Crypto Robo Advisor. Seeing how the core team of Smartly plus new hires are all listed in the website, it goes without saying that this is their new baby. This isn’t a cryptocurrency blog, so I shall not comment too much on it.

Okay okay, just some thoughts. Well, of course there is going to be a token sale. The token model does seem a little “forced” to me, like someone is trying really hard to write the whitepaper. The Smartly token, SAM, is used for :

  • Platform fees e.g. 20 SAM / month
  • Staking – “cryptocurrencies are volatile in their current state, meaning they also bring significant risk as an investment. As a function to prove one’s willingness to take risk, all users are required to stake a predetermined number of SAM Tokens” – what logic is this .. ?

Consider another startup that offers the same product, but charges $20 per month subscription and requires a minimum portfolio balance of $2000 to be maintained. Easy-peasy, simple to understand right? I’m sorry, but having read through many ICOs and looked at many projects, I’m not convinced by what I’m reading.

Right, but token model and whether the product is good for consumers are two separate issues. Crypto is inherently 10/10 risky at this stage, so your crypto robo-advisor profile would probably be either “risky”, “super risky” or “ultra risky”. Which could make Smartly Crypto Robo Advisor a useful product, actually. Really? Because the crypto market is inefficient unlike traditional markets, this means there are huge potential gains to be exploited.

The user always has the option to ignore all our recommendations and simply choose a strategy from our entire available pool or build their own index.

Haha! They said it best. And with the choice to fund the robo-advisor with fiat money (currency that a government has declared to be legal tender, but it is not backed by a physical commodity), it is actually a very attractive proposition to some.

By the way, I have written a Practical Guide To Pseudo Crypto-Currency Index Investing in case you’re interested. There is Crypto20 or Iconomi that makes it pretty easy to get started.

Not interested in these crypto stuff? Head over to my robo-advisors – AutoWealth and StashAway articles. Both Tai Zhi and Michele are very passionate about their work and have built rock-solid robo-advisors.

Tai Zhi sharing on ETFs and robo-advisors at Seedly event (7th July 2018)