Consumers as shareholders: How Bits of Stock is turning fractional ownership into a wealth generation engine



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Rewards and loyalty programmes have long played a key role in the modern payments and finance industry. However, every reward or loyalty programme is always seen as a value add rather than as a wealth generation engine. Amsterdam-based Bits of Stock wants to change that with its innovative fintech platform.

Started by Arash Asady and Ryan Gary in 2016, this Dutch scaleup helps businesses to reward their customers in fractional shares. With the option to differentiate loyalty programmes with stock, crypto, and more, the company is making “rewards-as-a-service” the new frontier of embedded finance.

Is this a once in a century business opportunity? CEO and co-founder Asady not only thinks so but is already on a mission to scale it further.

Fractional ownership as wealth generation engine

The idea of turning fractional ownership into a wealth generation engine comes from Asady’s previous work as an algorithmic trader for leading banks on Wall Street. He says these banks leveraged “cutting-edge technology to exchange billions of dollars of financial instruments in fractions of seconds with minimal execution risk.”

These transactions made him realise how fractional ownership can democratise investing for the underserved and underinvested instead of the wealthy. “I wanted to help regular people tap into the massive engine of wealth generation that is stock ownership,” he says.

After a few iterations, Asady and team landed on the idea of harnessing billions of dollars spent by businesses on rewards and incentive programmes. They saw how the points or cashback offered as rewards to customers sit unclaimed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of users worried about losing the miles accumulated on their cards or air carrier of choice.

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Bits of Stock helps these corporations offer fractional shares of stock instead. In order to test its idea, they built an app and partnered with a team of NYU researchers to analyse the data. The research revealed that stock rewards were 51 times more effective than cash rewards in building brand loyalty.

Rewards-as-a-service to create ownership economy

Arash Ryan Bits of Stock
Arash Asady with CTO and co-founder Ryan Gary | Image Credit: Bits of Stock

If you shop with your credit card then there is a good chance that you have accrued some points on it. However, not everyone really takes advantage of these reward points and Bits of Stock wants to plug this visible gap in the rewards industry.

US Marine Corp veteran Asady, who now serves as CEO, and Computer Science graduate Gary first met during graduate school at New York University. “Ryan and I hit it off instantly in grad school while working on a class project together,” says Asady. “We shared the vision of leveraging fractional ownership to help create a more equitable economy.”

As a platform, Bits of Stock enables banks, fintechs, and brands to reward their customers in fractional shares of stock, crypto, and more. Asady says they have now built a “best-in-class product” with a strong product and engineering team in Amsterdam.

“Combining Dutch engineering with American sales and marketing is a powerful combination proven to create billion dollar businesses,” he says. “Our partners purchase our technology and brokerage services to drive customer engagement,” adds Asady.

It raised a $4.4M seed round earlier this year led by the London and Amsterdam-based VC firm Keen Venture Partners and Yellow by Snap. To get to this stage, Asady had to make his parents understand his entrepreneurial impulse. “My parents immigrated to the US from Iran and expected me to become a doctor or a lawyer in the typical immigrant fashion,” he elaborates.

Asady, who now calls Amsterdam his home, says his parents have come around to be supportive of his entrepreneurial journey. He also says entrepreneurship has been a humbling experience, one requiring “the ability to hear no and be able to move on quickly.”

He adds, “We pivoted several times before finding product-market fit. Those previous product iterations and initial sales and fundraising meetings were critical learning moments that led us to where we are today.”

With its rewards-as-a-service platform, Bits of Stock is essentially creating an ownership economy. Asady explains this as a pathway for everyday consumers to build long-term wealth. With a vision to fractionalise all asset classes and offer them as rewards, Bits of Stock is changing the very definition of rewards and plans to close Series A round in mid-2023 to further its vision.

Rise programme is about community

Pim van der Straaten Bits of Stock
Pim van der Straaten, Product Manager for Bits of Stock at Rise programme | Image Credit:

Bits of Stock is one of the ten Dutch scaleups to join’s batch #9 of Rise programme this year. While learning is second nature for entrepreneurs and the Rise programme offers that in plenty, Asady says they see the programme as “exceptionally beneficial” as it is a great community of Dutch startups “who understand what we’re going through and whom we can exchange ideas with.”

He says Rise has already helped him build great relationships with other Dutch scaleups that were part of this programme. He also sees Rise as a programme that combines the best practices from top accelerator programmes such as YC with a hands-on approach to peer-to-peer advice and coaching.

“They create a safe place where founders can be vulnerable with one another and therefore give and get practical and actionable advice,” Asady tells us.

Consumers as shareholders

Bits of Stock Rise Techleap
Bits of Stock was one of tech Fintech Dutch scaleups at Rise programme | Image Credit:

When you think of Bits of Stock, you cannot stop from thinking about employee stock ownership plans or ESOP. ESOP has played a key role in convincing people to join a startup as opposed to an established tech firm with hundreds of billions of dollars in market cap.

If ESOP paved the way for employees at tech firms to become investors in those companies, Bits of Stock could be the gateway for an average consumer to become a shareholder in the brands they consume. “When we reverse the accelerating trend of growing wealth inequality and disparity,” Asady says about the barometer of success.

To make this a reality, Bits of Stock joined ScaleNL’s accelerator programme to expand to the US. Asady says the US market offers massive opportunity and they have made critical hires on the ground in sales and marketing to build their business, and understanding the local landscape.

Imagine getting fractional shares of Apple Inc when you purchase an iPhone next time. It could become a reality if more brands get onboard Asady’s vision of fractional ownership as a wealth generation engine.

The success of Asady and Bits of Stock teaches an important lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs that technology is only an enabler. He says “researching your market, talking to as many customers, and surrounding yourself with the best-in-class team” as the starting point for building a high growth, high performance business.

“It is ultimately humans that will buy your product or service,” he adds.


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Editorial team

The editorial team of Silicon Canals brings you technology news from the European startup ecosystem. 

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