Investment

Robinhood scraps launch of its investing app in the UK

The Robinhood investment app is see on a smartphone in this photo illustration on June 24, 2020 in Washington,DC.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Robinhood has postponed the launch of its popular stock-trading app in the U.K. indefinitely.

The Menlo Park, California-based fintech firm told people signed up to its U.K. waitlist Tuesday that it had put the brakes on its global expansion ambitions to focus primarily on its home market.

“A lot has changed in the world over the past few months, and we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our U.K. launch indefinitely,” a Robinhood spokesperson said in a statement. “As a company, we are refocusing our efforts on strengthening our core business in the U.S.”

“Although our global expansion plans are on hold for now, we’re committed to democratising finance for more people around the world. We look forward to the day when we can bring this mission to the U.K.”

The company opened a waitlist to British customers in November after obtaining broker authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority last summer. A U.K. expansion would have put Robinhood head-to-head with incumbent online brokers like Hargreaves Lansdown as well as rival fintech start-ups like Revolut and Freetrade.

CNBC understands that Robinhood will shortly pull its U.K. website and close the waitlist, while customer email addresses will be deleted from the company’s systems to protect users’ privacy. The company plans to transfer most of its 10 employees in the U.K. to U.S. teams, however others will be let go.

The firm has become a popular entry point for first-time investors in the U.S., growing from 1 million users in 2016 to over 13 million this year. It experienced a wild surge in trading volumes at the start of the coronavirus pandemic which resulted in a series of major outages in March.

Robinhood found itself in hot water following the suicide of a 20-year-old trader who said he lost $ 730,000 on the free trading app. The company responded by pledging to make it more difficult for users to access options trading, and by making a $ 250,000 donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The firm was last valued at $ 8.6 billion after raising another $ 320 million earlier this month. There has been much speculation about whether the company will go public, however Robinhood hasn’t set a date for a potential initial public offering.

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