Cheap but a little clunky
8 Securities is a share dealing platform originally from Hong Kong. It is cheaper than similar platforms in Japan but not as slick or easy to use.
I was most interested in their robo-advisor service 8 Now! but they also have a normal share-dealing platform offering Chinese and US shares. Unfortunately US citizens and green card holders cannot use these platforms.
Opening an account was pretty easy, with the usual online form. I was able to submit my ID online, but had to send them a paper copy of my My Number. There were also three or four phone calls/emails to clarify various things, which was slightly annoying.
My account is now open and I have been using the system for a week or so.
My main impression is that it is not as clear or smooth as either Rakuten (for shares) or THEO (as a robo-advisor). One example of this is the process to fund your account. Like Rakuten or THEO you can make a bank transfer, but 8 Securities asks that you include your account number in the transfer or contact them in advance to let them know the money is coming. You don't have to do this with other platforms.
The website is also less clear and intuitive. For example, you send money to 8 Securities and fund your 8 Now! robo-advisor account from there. They also ask you to click on, read, and confirm the terms and conditions every time you make a trade. Now, it's not like you are going to be trading every day, so these extra steps aren't going to make a huge difference, but I can see it getting old.
Overall 8 Securities and 8 Now! are cheaper options than Rakuten or THEO, but I find the latter two much easier to use and I'm going to keep them as my recommended products.