Robinhood, a mobile-based stock-trading app, has announced that it’s moving into cryptocurrency trading. As of next month users will be able to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum on the platform. What’s more, cryptocurrency trading will be commission free and for purchases under $1,000 in value, transfers will be instant.
Initially the option will only be available to Robinhood customers in five states, including California. The move is aimed at getting existing cryptocurrency traders to try more mainstream products like stocks, and for stock-traders to try cryptocurrencies.
The firm already has 3 million account holders and added options trading last month. The platform is popular with younger traders with the median age of user only 26. This generation is particularly friendly to cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin sometimes dubbed, “gold for millennials”.
Rather than try and make money from the trades, Robinhood is hoping they will raise revenue by attracting new customers. CEO Vlad Tenev said that,
the value of Robinhood Crypto is in growing our customer base and better serving our existing customers.”
Rather than acting as an exchange Robinhood will take the position of broker/dealer, using partners to acquire the currencies, though as yet those partnerships have not been revealed. The price paid by users will include those transaction costs, though it’s hoped that volumes will be high enough to get a sufficient discount on purchases to offset the 3rd party fees.
Initially only Bitcoin and Ethereum will be available for trading with 14 other cryptocurrencies available for monitoring on a “watchlist” feature. There are no firm plans on when, or if, those currencies, which include include Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Monero and Neo, will be added as trading options. Any new options will have to go through Robinhood’s “listing committee” which analyses factors like security to determine if the addition is appropriate.
The move is seen as a clear endorsement of the cryptocurrency space. According to Tenev, cryptocurrencies had “exhibited clear and underlying resiliency” and belonged in a “diversified and balanced portfolio”.