Virtual Traders

Every day 38-year-old Laytoyia Housley logs into UpDown’s site from her home in Florida and spends two hours trading stocks and shares.

“Act fast, invest smart and do not get emotional,” she preaches, giving her best impression of a ruthless Wall Street whiz kid. This year, she’s made close to a 1,500 per cent return on her investments.

But – and here’s the crucial bit – she hasn’t invested a penny of her own money. That’s because all she trades is virtual money. Last month, UpDown claims to have paid out more than £5,000 in rewards to its members and believes this will grow.

Fantasy trading sites are not new, but UpDown is part of a new breed that combines virtual trading on real markets with a social network-style interface. Think Fantasy Football meets Facebook, except the action is played out on the stock market, not the sports field, and your “friends” are rivals as well as allies. UpDown’s mantra is “beat the market and earn money with zero risk”.

That could prove to be killer factor in uncertain economic times. One of the best ways to earn money from the site is to do as Housley does and take the million virtual dollars you’re given on joining and outperform the S&P 500 index as well as the portfolios of your fellow members.

“How much you earn depends on how you do compared to the index, but also on how others do,” explains the man behind UpDown, 32-year-old Michael Reich.

To date, Housley has earned £1,600 ($2,180 USD). But as the community grows, its star performers will receive more. Currently the site claims 72,500 members, and says it has paid out money to about half of them.

Photo by UpDown.

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