Zero-Free Stock Trading Platform Robinhood Gets Green Light to Operate in UK

Siamak Masnavi
  • 8 Aug 2019

Robinhood Markets, Inc. ("Robinhood"), a financial services company based in Menlo Park, California, announced on Wednesday (August 7) 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 January 4, Techcrunch reported that Robinhood was "stealthily recruiting for a new London office ahead of plans to eventually launch in the UK."

Well, yesterday, Robinhood announced via a blog post that it had received the green light from the  FCA to bring its platform to the UK and accept UK residents as customers.

We do not know yet the date of the UK launch or what UK customers will be able to do at the time of the launch, but it's a pretty safe bet that they will, at a minimum, be able to buy/sell UK stocks without paying a commission, especially since UK-based trading app Freetrade, which was launched last year and which is also FCA-regulated, already offers the following services:

  • free trades if you are happy for your order to get executed at the close of each day (and only GBP 1 or roughly $1.20 per trade if you want immediate execution of your order)
  • ability to invest in stocks, bonds, gold, and ETFs
  • access to both the US and UK markets

UK-headquartered digital bank Revolut, which was founded in 2015, has also said that it wants to allow users of its banking app, who are already able to buy/sell crypto, to be able to trade stocks commission-free.

According to Wired, this new feature, which will initially only allow trading in U.S. stocks, will be "first rolled out to Revolut's metal card customers – its high-end banking service – before being made available to the rest of the bank's EU-based customers in the coming weeks." 

Wired also says that Revolut's stock trading feature will have the following limitations:

Revolut Metal customers can make 100 free trades per month, while Premium customers will be capped at eight, and Standard customers at three. Outside of these allowances, it will cost £1 per trade, and an annual custody fee of 0.01 per cent.

Robinhood also 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."

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.