Since launching in 2015, online brokerage platform Robinhood has become a staple among millennials diving into U.S. equity markets via smartphones, and more recently, web browsers. Now, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm is moving into the crypto market after announcing Thursday that it’ll start offering Bitcoin and Ethereum trading next month.
Robinhood Crypto will launch in February to consumers in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and New Hampshire. Starting Thursday, anybody in the U.S. with Robinhood’s iOS or Android mobile apps will be able to track market data, read news and set price alerts for a roster of 16 cryptocurrencies that include Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Ripple, in addition to Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“Now in Robinhood, for the first time, consumers will be able to invest in and trade stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies all in one place. You don’t need to have different apps, or be checking stocks on Robinhood and then logging into some exchange in Asia to trade your cryptocurrencies. It’s all consolidated,” says Baiju Bhatt, who serves as co-founder and co-CEO of Robinhood alongside Vlad Tenev.
This consolidated portfolio thesis was a direct response to user feedback, Bhatt adds. Robinhood says its consumer base has now grown to more than three million users, contributing to a transaction volume of about $100 billion.
“Robinhood has historically been very popular with younger consumers in our country, with our consumer being, on average, about 30 years old — more than half of them being first-time investors in the stock market,” Bhatt says. “Now, we see this happening with cryptocurrency to another very large set of consumers, and we really love the opportunity to help start this journey as well — to be their first touchpoint into cryptocurrencies.”
When Robinhood Crypto initiates trading next month, it’ll bring to its launch the zero-commission trading structure that the broader Robinhood platform offers. From a fee perspective, Bhatt says today’s cryptocurrencies have become too expensive, and he hopes the firm’s pricing structure will systematically drive down associated costs for consumers in the industry.
[Editor’s note: Investing in cryptocoins or tokens is highly speculative and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment.]
The firm says it’s looking to expand the launch to the remaining 45 U.S. states “soon,” and that it’s established a listing committee to help determine which new digital assets could make their way onto the platform in the future — although consumer research made it clear for now that Bitcoin and Ethereum were in the highest demand. They’re currently the two largest cryptocurrencies with market capitalizations of $190 billion and $102 billion, respectively.