On January 25, 2018, commission-free stock trading app Robinhood announced that it will introduce 24/7, commission-free cryptocurrency trading next month. At the time of publication, more than 150,000 people had signed up for early access.
The platform's landing page currently features a flickering banner with the words "DON'T SLEEP" in a font reminiscent of "Mr. Robot," a technology drama series about a young vigilante hacker who attempts to break the shackles of corporate America.
According to Robinhood, "Trading functionality for BTC and ETH will be released gradually in waves to Robinhood residents in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire." Additional cryptocurrencies will be added for trading later on and the team plans to roll out to more states soon.
As of today though, Robinhood's customers will be able to track prices for the following cryptocurrencies:
If jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon wasn't enough, Robinhood will apparently support instant deposits, with up to $1,000 in bank transfers immediately available for trading in cryptocurrencies. While this raises some doubt about the social responsibility of the platform, it is sure to entice eager new participants.
Clearly, the barriers to entry into the cryptocurrency world are slowly crumbling. But as mainstream financial vehicles join the space, there remain many questions.
While Robinhood has differentiated itself through its commission-free trading structure, it will be interesting to see if this cryptocurrency endeavor is or remains profitable. With bitcoin's transaction fees hovering near $12 (and fluctuating substantially), it is unclear how Robinhood will set up its cryptocurrency unit.
Will Robinhood create a wallet address for each user? Will the company simply hold cryptocurrency on behalf of its customers? And will users be able to send or receive cryptocurrency through the Robinhood app?
At the time of publication, Robinhood had not replied to a request for comment.
It's worth noting that in recent months, as bitcoin's price has swung wildly, other companies like Steam have suspended support for cryptocurrency payment channels. In just the last few days, mobile payments company Stripe announced that it would no longer support bitcoin payments.