For millennials, apps provide the on-ramp to investing

For many young adults, easy-to-use applications on smartphones and tablets are a popular gateway to investing.

Historically, there have been two major roadblocks to starting out with investments: the amount of time it takes to create a smart, safe portfolio and the cost to do it. Companies like Digit, Acorns and Stash are a part of a financial tech industry that, with the giant base of millennials in mind, is simplifying and lowering the cost of investing.

After analyzing income and spending habits, Digit withdraws and deposits a small amount of cash into a Digit saving account. Nearly $16 million was saved with Digit in March, compared with only $1 million a year ago, said Ethan Bloch, chief executive of the San Francisco-based firm.

David Ronick, co-founder and chief executive of New York-based Stash, said allowing first-time investors to get their feet wet in the market, while keeping risk low, helps spur investment. Its app allows users to start with as little as $5. “Investing doesn’t have to be complicated,” Ronick said. “You can buy a little and learn as you go.”

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