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The UnitPlus easy investing ETF account: good for beginners?

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Investing money and paying with the investment at any time, free of charge? It is now possible. Berlin startup, UnitPlus, has launched the world’s first ETF investment product with a seamlessly integrated payment mechanism.

In this time of record inflation, holding money in a checking, savings, or overnight deposit account loses value, meaning it has never been more expensive to keep money as cash. That’s why UnitPlus, Vodeno, a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) provider, and Aion Bank, a European digital bank, combined forces to empower savers to become investors by helping them easily invest unused money and make potential market returns to fight inflation, all while retaining instant access to cash.

“A single product that lets you both invest money smartly and conveniently ‘pay with your portfolio’ is a financial revolution, and our mission is to help people easily access this flexible way of investing,” said Fabian Mohr, CEO & Co-Founder of UnitPlus.

Live for German users

UnitPlus went live for German iOS users at the beginning of May with thousands of downloads in the first days, and the app is now also available for Android devices in Germany. UnitPlus customers invest their unused money in broadly diversified ETF (exchange traded fund) portfolios and are able to pay with their portfolio by using the UnitPlus debit card through the unique ‘pay-with-portfolio’ mechanism, worldwide and free of charge.

This is the first time ETF portfolios are being integrated in the international payment space. Users’ money is put to work and invested in capital markets instead of lying dormant in low-interest yielding bank accounts. UnitPlus gives customers access to a very convenient investment solution, and money is available to use anytime, making it tailored to their investing and spending needs.

To access the app you need a smartphone with iOS operating system of 13+ or Android with 7+. You need to be at least 18 years old and be a permanent resident with tax liability in Germany. You can get access right away with as little as EUR 25. This also applies to the company’s monthly savings plan. UnitPlus confirmed that they were working on getting the service deployed into other European countries but there is nothing more specific than that forthcoming.

Only a limited number of nationalities can currently participate even if resident in Germany. This is due to the limitations imposed by high speed AML (anti money laundering) and KYC (know your client). These are restricted mainly to the EU and EEA although we note Ukrainians can apply. UK nationals are currently out of scope.

UnitPlus currently offers four underlying model investment strategies named after famous mountains. These change the balance between bonds and equities, and also relative geographies. For example, the Mount Everest portfolio has the lowest allocation to European equities. Investment is carried out via allocation to existing listed exchange traded funds.

All the ETFs using in the underlying portfolios must meet strict ESG criteria. Over 200 ETFs were included before ESG screening was applied to narrow down the field of tracking funds.

Our thoughts? This looks like a good service for the beginner, someone who wants early stage exposure to markets in a safer way, and does not want to be constantly checking back on his/her investments. The fact that you have to live in Germany and be confined to a small list of nationalities will obviously hamper growth initially, but if it can be rolled out into other European markets, it could be quite successful.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

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