James Griffiths

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iMaibo plans to expand the service to cover Hong Kong stocks with the advent of the Shanghai-Hong Kong through-train scheme. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Technology entrepreneurs are eyeing the stock market, and not just for initial public offerings.

A new generation of apps is enabling users to buy and trade stocks, follow financial experts and traders, and discover up-to-date market information.

Guangzhou-based iMaibo allows users to view and track investment professionals' portfolios and ask them questions about their moves.

Vice-president of business development, Jonathan Cai, said it planned to expand the service to cover Hong Kong stocks with the advent of the Shanghai-Hong Kong through train scheme, which will allow investors to conduct cross-border trading of stocks listed in the two cities.

Cai said about half of iMaibo's 400,000 users paid for value-added services such as chatting with the 100 or so investment professionals signed up to the service.

"Some of the guys who are good have hundreds of thousands of followers," he said. "We give them incentives to grow our platform because whatever they bring in, we give them half. So we provide a viable, scalable platform for them to market their ideas."

IMaibo users will soon be able to buy and sell stocks listed on the Shanghai exchange, for which the company is linking with a brokerage in the city.

"What we want to do is provide that layer of credibility by working with a proven brokerage," Cai said. "Our aim is to get this to a stage where if, let's say you are a professional and you're really good at trading stocks, whenever you buy something, people who pay for value-added service get notified right away so they can actually trade behind that."

The Japanese stock market is also getting more app-friendly. On Tuesday, online brokerage SBI Securities said users of the popular messaging app Line would soon be able to buy domestic stocks and exchange-traded funds through their phones.

SBI sees the feature as a means of expanding its base to younger investors. Users who have opened transaction accounts and connected with SBI through its official Line account will be able to text "buy" to the brokerage along with the ticker number they wish to purchase.

Security is obviously an issue, and SBI said it intended to require users to enter an additional password when buying stocks, and investors might also be sent to the brokerage's website to input another security key.

Selling of stocks is currently not available on the app.