Robinhood Postpones UK Launch ‘Indefinitely’, Global Expansion Plans ‘On Hold for Now’
Robinhood Markets, Inc. (“Robinhood”), a financial services company based in Menlo Park, California, announced on 7 August 2019 that its UK subsidiary, Robinhood International, Ltd., had received a license from the UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to operate as a broker in the UK.
Robinhood’s two U.S. subsidiaries are the operators for the Robinhood platform, which allows commission-free trading/investing in stocks, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies from a mobile device or a desktop computer. Currently, this service is only available to residents of the U.S.
However, on 4 January 2019, Techcrunch reported that Robinhood was “stealthily recruiting for a new London office ahead of plans to eventually launch in the UK.”
We did not know the date of the UK launch or what UK customers would be able to do at the time of the launch, but everyone assumed that, at a minimum, they would allow UK-based user to buy/sell UK stocks without paying a commission, especially since UK-based trading app Freetrade, which was launched in 2018 and which is also FCA-regulated, already offered zero commission trading for stocks, bonds, gold, and ETFs.
UK-headquartered digital bank Revolut, which was founded in 2015, also currently offers commission-free stock trading, as well as the ability to trade commodities (precious metals) and crypto.
Robinhood had announced that the person who would be in charge of their UK operations would be Wander Rutgers, who has been appointed the President of Robinhood International. In the past, Rutgers has worked at Transferwise, where he “led product, compliance, and operation teams.”
At the time, Rutgers had this to say about his new position:
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Robinhood, and we’re excited to take the first important step towards bringing our investing platform to customers in the U.K. I’m thrilled to be a part of Robinhood and our effort to expand into a new international market.”
Well, today, everyone in the UK who had put his/her email address on the waitlist to become one of the early users of Robinhood’s planned platform for UK users received from the Robinhood UK Team the following letter via email:
“We’re saddened to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our UK launch indefinitely. We’ll be closing our waitlist and taking down our UK website shortly.
“The world has changed a lot over the past several months and we’re adapting with it. On a company level, we’ve come to recognise that our efforts are currently best spent on strengthening our core business in the US and making further investments in our foundational systems.
“Since we announced our intent to launch in the UK, we’ve been fueled by your excitement for Robinhood and humbled by your response. We’re sorry that we cannot deliver the product we promised you this year.
“Although our global expansion plans are on hold for now, we will continue our work to democratise finance for all and we look forward to the day when we can bring this mission to the UK.”
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