Robinhood's Global Expansion Starts With A Third Attempt In The UK

Robinhood's Global Expansion Starts With A Third Attempt In The UK
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Robinhood is once again setting its sights on the U.K. market, unveiling a new waitlist for British residents. This marks the company's third attempt in four years to establish a foothold in the U.K., reflecting its persistent ambition despite previous setbacks.

In 2020, Robinhood's initial U.K. launch plans were abruptly shelved, and more recently, its ambitions suffered another blow when a proposed acquisition of U.K.-based cryptocurrency company Ziglu fell through earlier this year.

This expansion comes at a time when Robinhood is reevaluating its revenue model. Traditionally, the company has leaned heavily on 'payment for order flow' (PFOF) – a practice where brokers are compensated for directing orders to specific trading firms.

While lucrative, PFOF has been mired in controversy and criticism, leading to scrutiny from regulatory bodies and market observers. Notably, PFOF is prohibited in the U.K., compelling Robinhood to diversify its revenue streams in this new market.

The company's pivot seems timely as net-interest revenues, generated from sources like interest on uninvested cash and margin lending, have begun to surpass income from order-flow payments. This shift indicates a strategic adaptation by Robinhood, aligning its business model with regional regulatory landscapes and evolving market dynamics.

As Robinhood gears up for a 2024 full launch in the U.K., industry watchers will be keen to observe how the company navigates these challenges and whether it can replicate its stateside success in a markedly different regulatory environment.

Jordan Sinclair, who Robinhood hired as its new UK CEO in July this year from Freetrade, told Sifted the platform will look to launch in other European markets over time, but declines to comment on which markets will be first.

Sinclair also declines to comment on whether the fintech is eyeing up any struggling European rivals as potential acquisitions for faster access to these markets. 

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