Robinhood Announces Launch in the United Kingdom
The past 12 months have been a bit of a rollercoaster for Robinhood. At the end of last year, the FinTech famously botched the announcement of their “Checking & Savings” account, which not only led them to scrap their plans (although a revamped Cash Management account was revealed in October) but also cast doubt on the company’s ability to work well with regulators. Then, just last month, Charles Schwab set off a series of brokerages dropping their trade fees to $0, posing a threat to Robinhood in the eyes of many. Despite these challenges, it seems as though the company is ready to press forward. In fact Robinhood announced this week that they are launching their platform in the United Kingdom.
Just like their stateside counterparts, Robinhood users in the U.K. will enjoy commission-free trades and no account minimums, allowing them to get started with as little as £1. Notably there are also no foreign transaction fees. Although the app won’t officially debut across the pond until 2020, users can join the waitlist for early access as of today.
According to TechCrunch, once Robinhood does officially launch in the U.K., it will be rolling out features in stages. As president of Robinhood U.K. Wander Rutgers told the site, “It starts with our core platform: unlimited commission frees trades, no account minimums, and access to a huge range of equities from both the U.S. and from across the world. Secondly, we will enable instant deposit, instant trading, without any foreign exchange fees. Users can fund very easily from any U.K. back using a phone or debit card and withdraw just as easily.” Of course the app will also include tools allowing investors to track their portfolio performance as well as share relevant market and business news from top outlets.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Robinhood co-founder and co-CEO Vlad Tenev commented on the decision to come to the United Kingdom, stating, “We’ve been very successful [in the U.S.] at attracting multiple types of customers. You know of course there’s your first time investor that doesn’t have a brokerage account before and discovers investing through Robinhood’s product. And, you know, we think there’s a fair number of those types of folks in the U.K. as well. And then there’s also customers that invest a little bit more actively and are familiar [with] the fees… I think we will be able to attract customers from that group as well.” Meanwhile, when asked about competitor Revolut and their mutual investors, Tenev said shortly, “It’s not something that we spend a lot of time talking to our investors about.” However he went on to say, “We’re certainly aware of competitors and, you know, believe that there’s things that we can learn from them but generally, you know, we found that if our focus is on the customer and listening really closely to them, we build products that customers love and.. that ends up working very well.”
With the brokerage landscape here at home rapidly evolving, it makes a lot of sense that Robinhood would want to start looking overseas for future growth. On that note, the United Kingdom seems like a ripe foreign market to start with. Of course this means that the FinTech will have a lot riding on this launch so it will definitely be something worth watching — especially as the company continues to ponder a future IPO. So where will Robinhood aim next? Perhaps we’ll know more come 2020.