At the center of the GameStop stock trading frenzy is Robinhood, a trading app for regular investors that says it’s out to “democratize finance.” But the growing chaos in the stock market is really testing the limits of that mission.
Robinhood, which is currently the most downloaded app on both the Apple and Google app stores, was founded in 2013 and launched in 2015. It has been a game changer in the retail trading space, largely because it allowed for commission-free trading, and others followed suit. Basically, that means when you buy or sell a stock on Robinhood — or on online brokerages like Fidelity, nowadays — there’s no charge. (Just because Robinhood does commission-free trading doesn’t mean it doesn’t make money. The company is valued at more than $20 billion and is set to go public early this year.)
In recent months, as day trading and individual investing have really taken off, so has Robinhood. If you don’t have a Robinhood account at this point, you might know someone who does.
So why is Robinhood in the news right now? Lots of people have gotten into trading lately, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. They’re bored at home, many have money to spare, and trading can be fun, especially on Robinhood’s gamified platform. Reddit, TikTok, and Twitter are also spurring the trading trend and getting people into finance.
In recent days, traders have piled on to certain stocks — namely, the retailer GameStop — causing enormous amounts of volatility and some serious finger-wagging from Wall Street. Many of the trades are being made on Robinhood. The platform has made trading super easy and, some would argue, almost addictive, so that it feels more like gambling than it does investing. Now Robinhood appears to be trying to pull back a little and is trying to clamp down on some risky activity there. Or, at the very least, it’s trying to address the frenzy around GameStop and other volatile stocks.
Robinhood received an enormous amount of backlash after announcing Thursday morning that the company was restricting trading on a number of stocks, including GameStop. Some users have joined a class-action suit against the company that says it manipulated the market by restricting trades, which caused users to lose money. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has called on Congress to investigate. In fact, the issue is bringing together all types of unexpected allies — including Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Well, sort of.
SOURCE : vox