Robinhood Crypto is coming to a Rocky Mountain near you! Commission-free Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) trading is now rolled out and available to investors in Colorado. pic.twitter.com/nGfZKrcvj4— Robinhood (@RobinhoodApp) April 20, 2018
The company, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, was launched back in 2013. It was founded by two Stanford University graduates, Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, who decided that by cutting costs to the absolute minimum, they could offer a basic commission-free online brokerage service, via their mobile app, to people wishing to invest in US-listed stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
They realized they did not need to charge purchase/sale commission, and that instead they could make money by collecting interest on the funds held for their customers (they also have an optional $6 a month service for users who want to engage in after-hours stock trading). Free is always popular, and by February 2018, Robinhood had over four million users.
Introducing Robinhood Crypto. Invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies commission-free on the Robinhood platform, 24/7. #DontSleep. Get early access https://t.co/28TamoX4rO pic.twitter.com/MiQ9xnsoaq— Robinhood (@RobinhoodApp) January 25, 2018
Initially, the Robinhood mobile app only allowed users to monitor cryptocurrency news and market data, but on February 22, 2018, Robinhood said that it was launching its commission-free crypto trading service, with invites initially going to customers residing in the US states of California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire. These lucky users would be able to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) via the Robinhood mobile app without paying any commission.
One of Robinhood's main competitors in the crypto space, Coinbase, had over 13 million users as of late November 2017. For US customers, on cryptocurrency buy/sell orders, Coinbase currently charges 1.49 percent for purchases/sales with a US bank account or a USD Coinbase wallet, 3.99 percent purchase commission if a US debit/credit card is used, and 3.99 percent for sending sales proceeds to a PayPal account.
In the coming months, Robinhood plans to add support for other cryptocurrencies and to extend the rollout of its cryptocurrency trading service to many more US states and eventually, other countries.
The Calfornian startup, whose latest round of funding is expected to value the company at around $5.6 billion, is backed by big name investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, IDG Ventures, and Y Combinator.