After much anticipation, the popular US retail investing platform Robinhood has entered the UK market, marking its first international expansion since its inception over a decade ago in the US.

From today, early access to the Robinhood app is available for those who join the waiting list, with a gradual rollout to the entire UK audience expected in early 2024.

However, the financial landscape has evolved since Robinhood’s last expansion attempt, with local contenders like Lightyear and Freetrade gaining momentum.

Lightyear, backed by entrepreneur Richard Branson, initially allowed UK consumers to trade US stocks and later expanded its support to European users and stocks.

Freetrade currently facilitates UK-based traders investing in US and European stocks, with plans to expand into Europe.

In the UK, Robinhood is likely to face competition primarily from these emerging players rather than traditional financial services firms.

The move into the UK has been on Robinhood’s radar for a significant part of the year, and the company confirmed its plans during its Q3 earnings, stating that it would launch brokerage operations in the UK with cryptocurrency trading to follow for the European Union markets.

UK consumers can now trade thousands of US stocks on Robinhood, including major companies such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta.

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The platform allows users to place trades during standard market hours, with additional features like the 24-Hour Market enabling limit orders on 150 different stocks outside regular hours.

Despite facing challenges and controversies in its home market, including allegations of misleading customers and criticism for gamification strategies, Robinhood went public in mid-2021.

The company, headquartered in Menlo Park, California, claims 23 million users domestically, experiencing substantial growth during the early lockdown period.

Jordan Sinclair, Robinhood’s UK president, acknowledges the lessons learned from the previous launch attempt, emphasising the company’s growth and maturity as it ventures into the international market.

“We’ve certainly learned from our previous launch attempt, and as a business, we’ve grown and matured to a level where we’re 23 million customers, $87bn in assets, and a listed business,” Sinclair stated.