Robinhood, the no-frills, zero-commission stock trading app, launched Robinhood Crypto at the end of February. The new no-commission service, which is initially available in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and New Hampshire, allows users to trade and track Bitcoin and Ethereum with no additional fees. Coinbase, by contrast, made a reported $1 billion-plus in revenue in 2017 by charging 1.5 to 4 percent in fees per transaction.
Users can also track an additional 14 carefully-selected coins in the same app they use for Robinhood’s standard service, says the company’s co-founder, Vlad Tenev: “We’re extremely selective about the cryptos we’re making available on the platform,” Tenev told TechCrunch. “We’re introducing [the 16 total coins] first because these are the most mature coins that people are trading these days. Multiple times people have declared them dead and they’ve come back stronger than ever.”
To get users started, Robinhood Crypto offers instant transfers up to $1,000 (or more, for top-tier members) – an improvement over more-established exchanges. When it’s time to buy or sell, Robinhood offers estimates sourced from varied trading services and markets to find the best prices. Users can “collar” trades to execute at the right value; they can also set price limits to trigger an automatic purchase or sale.
Robinhood’s no-frills, simplified approach to tracking and trading stocks has garnered considerable acclaim (as well as a valuation of $1.3 billion); they are betting the same approach will translate positively to crypto. Proponents hope the company’s foray into digital currency can provide an additional measure of legitimacy in a space that critics maintain is a wild-west atmosphere, at best. Backed with $176 million in funding from a variety of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Robinhood has the all-important trust factor craved by experienced and novice traders alike – which could lead to increased investment in cryptocurrency as a whole.
Robinhood is treating its crypto offering as a loss leader, at least for the forseeable future – according to Tenev, “…the value of Robinhood Crypto is in growing our customer base [of 3 million existing users] and better serving our existing customers”. While its long-term impact remains to be seen, the new service has the potential to threaten Coinbase’s status as the premier cryptocurrency exchange – and transform crypto trading forever.
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(image brought to you from www.robinhood.com)