9.5 million Robinhood users traded cryptocurrencies in the first quarter, compared to 1.7 million in the last quarter of 2020

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Vladimir Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood.

  • Robinhood said the number of customers trading cryptocurrencies on its platform reached 9.5 million in the first quarter.
  • The quarterly figure is a surge from 1.7 million cryptocurrency customers in the final quarter of 2020.
  • Robinhood’s update highlights the fast-growing popularity of digital assets.
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Trading app Robinhood said 9.5 million customers traded cryptocurrency during the first quarter of 2021, soaring from 1.7 million crypto traders on the platform in the last quarter of 2020.

Robinhood shared the figure in a blog post on Thursday in which it highlighted its Robinhood Crypto platform that it launched in 2018. “This year in particular has been a big one,” it said about activity in 2021.

There’s been a pickup this year in the number of financial institutions and other companies saying they will allow their customers to use or to gain access to cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that backs them. Investment bank Goldman Sachs is looking into ways to support their clients’ desire to own cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, CEO David Solomon said Tuesday in a CNBC “Squawk Box” interview. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk last month said the electric vehicle maker will accept bitcoin as payment.

Robinhood said its customers have access to seven tradable coins including bitcoin, dogecoin and ethereum.

“The prospect of an open and decentralized global financial system, one where everyone can have access to financial services, strongly aligned with Robinhood’s mission–so democratizing cryptocurrency trading felt like a natural next step,” said Robinhood.

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Robinhood CEO says investing ‘should be as ubiquitous as shopping online’ and should not be viewed as gambling

Vlad Tenev Robinhood

Robinhood Markets CEO Vlad Tenev defended the mission of his trading platform, which seeks to “democratize finance for all” amid backlash from lawmakers, regulators, and Wall Street firms blaming the mobile app for luring inexperienced investors and “gamifying” the stock market.

“Investing should be as ubiquitous as shopping online,” Tenev told Bloomberg. “It should just be something that people do.”

The Menlo Park, California-based company has faced scrutiny for its role at the center of the GameStop frenzy in January. This includes complaints that the mobile app used “aggressive” tactics to lure young and inexperienced investors with commission-free trades.

A five-hour congressional hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee was held on February 18, scrutinizing the role the company played.

“This is what I signed up for,” Tenev said. “Any time you’re causing change in society and kind of upending the status quo, it’s probably not going to be the most comfortable process.”

The 34-year-old founder also rebuffed comments from various experts on the addictive nature of trading apps like Robinhood. The app has attracted over 13 million users since 2013, many of whom are younger retail traders.

“I reject the idea that investing in the US capital markets is gambling,” Tenev said. “We’d be happy to have the conversation, but of course we understand that investing is a serious thing.”

“The facts will come out and it will bear out that Robinhood is a customer-focused company that’s operating with the highest standards of integrity,” Tenev said.

In the February hearing, Tenev maintained that Robinhood has created opportunities for a new generation of investors. The CEO told lawmakers that the assets of his platform’s users have collectively grown by more than $35 billion, a claim challenged by some, including Rep. Jim Himes.

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Robinhood is reportedly borrowing at least ‘several hundred million dollars’ from banks amid GameStop trading frenzy

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  • Robinhood is drawing on credit lines from its lenders, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
  • The trading app is tapping into “at least several hundred million dollars,” according to Bloomberg.
  • Robinhood is popular among the retail investors behind this week’s market frenzy involving GameStop.
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Robinhood is drawing down lines of credit to the tune of “at least several hundred million dollars,” Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The quick decision to seek additional funds from its lenders, which include JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, suggest that this week’s trading frenzy has put a strain on the company, according to Bloomberg’s Matthew Monks and Michelle Davis. 

Robinhood did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The trading app is popular among the online community r/WallStreetBets, a group of mostly retail investors who sparked massive market swings by targeting short sellers’ positions in companies including GameStop, AMC Theaters, and Nokia.

Read more: How hedge funds are tracking Reddit posts to protect their portfolios after the Wall Street Bets crowd helped tank Melvin Capital’s short positions

The high volatility prompted Robinhood and other brokerage firms to temporarily halt trading of those shares.

In an email to users, Robinhood attributed the company’s decision to restrict trading to having to comply with financial requirements including SEC net capital obligations and clearinghouse deposits, that it said protected investors and the stock market. 

Read more: Robinhood user launches class-action suit against the trading app hours after it blocked purchases of GameStop

But the move sparked outrage from customers, the broader retail investor community, several progressive lawmakers including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ro Khanna, regulators, and even Elon Musk, a popular figure among r/WallStreetBets members.

Democrats in Congress have said they will hold at least two hearings about Wall Street’s practices following the GameStop short-squeeze.

Read more: One chart shows how 3 GameStop shareholders gained nearly $4 billion in a week

Robinhood has tapped its credit lines during periods of market volatility in the past. In March 2020, it maxed out its credit lines during wild market swings in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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One Robinhood super-user has made a whopping 12,748 trades since February – or 92 per day, according to the Massachusetts regulator’s complaint against the trading app

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  • One Robinhood user in Massachusetts made an eye-popping 12,748 trades since February, according to the state’s complaint, which alleges the popular investing app encouraged inexperienced investors to execute trades frequently.
  • The complaint against Robinhood was filed on Wednesday and also detailed how the brokerage firm popular among younger investors failed to supervise the review and approval of options tradings, leading to many inexperienced traders dabbling in more complex investments.
  • In an e-mailed statement, Robinhood said, “We disagree with the allegations in the complaint by the Massachusetts Securities Division and intend to defend the company vigorously.”
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Robinhood’s rapid growth and lack of internal controls facilitated an environment where inexperienced investors would trade stocks and options incessantly, nearly 100 times per day on average in one case, the state of Massachusetts said in a complaint filed on Wednesday.

The complaint is separate from a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Thursday that resulted in Robinhood paying $65 million to settle charges of misleading clients on the quality of its trading service.

According to Massachusetts, Robinhood successfully encouraged inexperienced investors to execute trades frequently on its platform by utilizing gamification techniques.

“During the relevant time period, at least 241 Robinhood customers with no investment experience averaged at least 5 trades per day on Robinhood’s platform,” the complaint said.

An average of five trades per day is peanuts relative to 25 Massachusetts Robinhood customers detailed in the complaint.

Read more: Fund manager Brian Barish has returned more than 550% to investors over 2 decades, and he just had 2 of his best years ever. He told us how he did it – and 3 top picks for the next 5 years.

According to the regulator’s complaint, since February 1, “customer one” made 12,748 trades with Robinhood, an average of approximately 92 trades per day during that timeframe.

“Customer one had no investment experience prior to trading with Robinhood,” the complaint read.

It then went onto detail 24 more Robinhood customers based in Massachusetts who had no investment experience that traded on average anywhere from 15 to 75 times per day.

Robinhood also failed to supervise the review and approval of options trading in customer accounts, the complaint states.

“Robinhood approved at least 608 Massachusetts customers that did not meet the requisite criteria for options trading,” the complaint said. 

Robinhood was also accused of failing to implement policies and procedures designed to prevent and respond to outages in its trading platform, according to the complaint. 

Read more: Buy these 26 stocks poised to surge as China starts to dominate the electric-vehicle landscape, UBS says

“Robinhood experienced as many as seventy outages or disruptions on its trading platform from January 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020 as a result of its failures,” the complaint said. At least seven of those disruptions impacted the ability of Robinhood customers to access their accounts to buy or sell securities.

Four more allegations against Robinhood listed in the complaint include: advertising to younger individuals with little to no investment experience, providing lists to encourage customers to purchase securities without consideration for suitability, employing a number of strategies to encourage customers to continuously engage with its application, and failing to meet the fiduciary duty it owes its customers.

In an e-mailed statement, Robinhood said:

“We disagree with the allegations in the complaint by the Massachusetts Securities Division and intend to defend the company vigorously. Robinhood is a self-directed broker-dealer and we do not make investment recommendations. Over the past several months, we’ve worked diligently to ensure our systems scale and are available when people need them. We’ve also made significant improvements to our options offering, adding safeguards and enhanced educational materials. Millions of people have made their first investments through Robinhood, and we remain continuously focused on serving them.”

Robinhood is likely hoping for a swift resolution to the complaint as it plans to go public next year at a valuation of more than $20 billion, according to reports. 

Read more: JPMorgan says stocks are primed for sustained gains in a way they haven’t been in years – and identifies 43 names to buy for above-average earnings growth in 2021

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Robinhood pays $65 million to settle SEC probe over misleading communications with customers

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  • Robinhood agreed to pay $65 million to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission over charges that the brokerage misled clients on its revenue from trades and the quality of its service.
  • The SEC alleged Robinhood made “misleading statements and omissions” about how it made money with market-makers. Robinhood, like other brokerages, sells its orders to high-speed trading firms for execution.
  • While Robinhood marketed its trades as commission-free and matching or exceeding its peers in quality, the brokerage provided inferior trade prices that cost clients tens of millions of dollars, according to a Thursday SEC press release.
  • The settlement relates to practices “that do not reflect Robinhood today,” Dan Gallagher, the brokerage’s chief legal officer, said in an emailed statement.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Robinhood agreed to pay $65 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that allege the discount brokerage misled customers on the quality of its trading service.

The regulator argued Robinhood made “misleading statements and omissions” about how it made money with high-speed trading companies, according to a Thursday press release. Like other brokerages, Robinhood sells its orders to trading firms for execution in a process known as “payment for order flow”.

The SEC’s order alleges the brokerage routinely provided inferior trade prices, even as Robinhood marketed its trades as commission-free and executed with quality that matched or beat peers. The second-rate prices have cost clients a total of $34.1 million even after accounting for the lack of commission fees, according to the SEC. 

Read more: Buy these 26 stocks poised to surge as China starts to dominate the electric-vehicle landscape, UBS says

“Robinhood provided misleading information to customers about the true costs of choosing to trade with the firm,” Stephanie Avakian, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said in a statement. “Brokerage firms cannot mislead customers about order execution quality.”

The settlement ends a probe that examined Robinhood’s omission of order-flow revenue on its website from 2015 to 2018. Robinhood resolved the probe without admitting or denying the SEC’s charges.

The settlement relates to practices “that do not reflect Robinhood today,” Dan Gallagher, the brokerage’s chief legal officer, said in an emailed statement.

“We recognize the responsibility that comes with having helped millions of investors make their first investments, and we’re committed to continuing to evolve Robinhood as we grow to meet our customers’ needs,” he added.

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Bitcoin soars above $23,000 as mammoth 2020 rally drives new record highs

JPMorgan says stocks are primed for sustained gains in a way they haven’t been in years – and identifies 43 names to buy for above-average earnings growth in 2021

Read the original article on Business Insider