Robinhood: Growth Amid a Slew of Regulatory Run-ins
While Robinhood has seen phenomenal growth this year, the firm has faced several significant setbacks such as system outages during market swings that prevented customers from trading, the cancellation of its plans to expand to the U.K. and the most recent issue of restricting trading on a few volatile stocks.
♂️ Regulatory Pressure Mounts: In 2019-20, Robinhood faced a maximum number of regulatory scrutiny and sanctions which included regulators across the board including SEC, FINRA, Massachusetts securities regulators, etc. questioning its business model. 2021 seems to bring even more heat on its operating model. So far Robinhood has responded with hiring a bunch of lobbyists, increasing size of its customer service team, improving UX and adding more financial education materials
✋ Friction Ain’t Always Bad: While removing friction has been one of the core motto of FinTechs across sectors, in capital markets this may expose customers to unprecedented risks that include getting access to leverage that they can’t afford or getting involved in financial instruments that they don’t understand.
Gamification Grey Area: Marketing tactics to acquire GenZ & Millennial customers and gamification approach to engage with them on a frequent basis is a new controversial area where the regulators in some states seem to have taken a strong view in favour of consumer protection and awareness before exposing them to risky instruments.
Road Ahead in 2021: Among the struggles and flourish, Robinhood’s future hangs in balance. With an impending IPO in 2021-22, the future course for Robinhood will depend on how it addresses concerns of several regulators and consumers at large.