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Revolutionizing Trading: Unpacking Robinhood’s Features and Revenue Streams

Robinhood: The Revolutionary Online Trading App

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, traditional ways of doing things are constantly being disrupted. One such industry that has been impacted significantly by technology is the trading of financial assets.

Gone are the days when you had to go through a broker to buy and sell stocks; today, you can do that on your own, using online trading apps like Robinhood. In this article, we will explore what Robinhood is, its history, features, and Robinhood

Robinhood is an online trading app that allows users to buy and sell financial assets such as stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies commission-free.

Founded in 2013 by Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, the app was designed to make trading accessible to everyone, regardless of their level of experience or wealth. Robinhood’s mission is to democratize finance for all.

Features and Benefits of Robinhood

Commission-Free Trading – One of Robinhood’s most notable features is its commission-free trading. This means that users can make unlimited trades without being charged a commission fee.

This model has disrupted the traditional brokerage industry, where commission fees are a significant source of revenue. Mobile Application – Robinhood’s mobile app is designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind.

The app is user-friendly and easy to navigate, even for beginners. With Robinhood, you can trade on the go, monitor your portfolio, and make informed decisions on the fly.

Free Stock – Robinhood offers one free stock to new users who sign up for the app. This is a unique feature that sets Robinhood apart from its competitors.

The free stock can be worth anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred, depending on the luck of the draw. Portfolio Overview – The app provides users with a comprehensive overview of their portfolio, including charts and graphs that display their investments’ performance.

This feature helps users keep track of their investments and make informed decisions about their finances. News Feed – Robinhood’s news feed provides users with up-to-date news and market analysis from reputable sources such as CNBC and Forbes.

This feature is helpful when making informed decisions about buying and selling financial assets. Watchlist – Users can create a watchlist of assets they are interested in, making it easy to keep track of the assets’ performance without having to search for them individually.

Cash Management Product – With Robinhood’s cash management product, users can earn interest on uninvested cash in their accounts. This feature is an alternative to traditional savings accounts.

Debit Card – Robinhood’s debit card allows users to spend their earnings on their investments without having to transfer funds from their brokerage account to their bank account. Insured Accounts – Robinhood’s accounts are insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), providing protection for up to $500,000 per account.

History of Robinhood

Founding and Early Years of Robinhood – Robinhood was founded in 2013 by Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, who had previously worked at Celeris and Chronos Research, respectively. Their experience in observing market developments and disruptions made them realize that trading stocks was more complicated than it needed to be, and there was a significant opportunity to simplify it for individual investors.

With initial funding of $3 million, they launched Robinhood in March 2015. Robinhood’s Growth and Key Milestones – The app’s user base grew rapidly in its early years, reaching one million users by 2016 and six million by 2018.

Robinhood’s introduction of Robinhood Instant and Robinhood Gold in 2016 and 2018, respectively, allowed users to trade on margin (borrowing money to buy stocks) and access a suite of premium features for a monthly fee. In 2019, Robinhood expanded to Australia and announced a partnership with Baidu, one of China’s leading search engines, to provide Chinese investors with access to the US stock market.

In the same year, Robinhood launched cryptocurrency trading, allowing users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum commission-free. In December 2019, Robinhood launched a banking product called Robinhood Cash Management, allowing users to earn interest on uninvested cash in their accounts.

Despite its rapid growth and success, Robinhood has faced controversies, such as its impact on stock prices, its handling of a technical issue in March 2020 that left users unable to trade for several hours, and its role in the GameStop saga in January 2021. Robinhood’s IPO is highly anticipated, and while it has not yet been announced, it is expected to happen in 2021.


In conclusion, Robinhood’s commission-free trading, mobile application, free stock, portfolio overview, news feed, watchlist, cash management product, debit card, and insured accounts make it a popular choice for investors. Its mission to democratize finance has disrupted the traditional brokerage industry.

Despite facing controversies, Robinhood continues to evolve, providing users with more ways to invest and access to financial markets. How Does Robinhood Make Money?

Robinhood is a commission-free trading app that allows users to buy and sell financial instruments such as stocks, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. The app’s popularity stems from its user-friendly interface and ease of use, making it accessible to even novice investors.

Despite offering commission-free trading, Robinhood is a profitable company. In this article, we will explore how Robinhood makes money and the controversies surrounding its revenue streams.

Revenue from Order Flow Payments

Robinhood makes a significant portion of its revenue from payment for order flow, a practice where the app sells its users’ trades to market makers in exchange for a small fee. Market makers are financial institutions that fulfill buyers and sellers’ orders in the market by buying and selling shares in bulk.

The practice of payment for order flow is legal, but it has faced scrutiny and criticism for its transparency and potential impact on market integrity. In December 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined Robinhood $65 million for misleading customers about its order flow revenue practices.

The SEC stated that Robinhood had made misleading statements about the quality of its execution services, the amount and source of its revenue, and the payment scheme it had with its market makers. The fine highlighted the need for transparency in order flow practices, and Robinhood has responded by publishing monthly reports on its website disclosing the amount of revenue it receives from payment for order flow.

Subscription Model and Robinhood Gold

Robinhood also generates revenue from its subscription model, which includes Robinhood Gold. Robinhood Gold is a premium subscription service that provides users access to advanced features such as margin investing, extended hours trading, and instant access to funds.

The subscription service is priced based on a tiered system, and users can choose the level of access they want to pay for. The pricing ranges from $5 per month to $200 per month, with each tier providing higher margin limits and access to other premium features.

Robinhood’s subscription model has faced criticism for encouraging users to trade on margin, which can increase their losses. Margin investing allows users to borrow money from Robinhood to buy stocks, but it also exposes them to higher risks.

Interest on Cash and Cash Management

Robinhood also generates revenue by lending users’ uninvested cash. The company holds user’s funds in partner banks and lends them to other financial institutions to generate interest.

Robinhood pays its users a small portion of the interest it earns on their uninvested cash. In December 2019, Robinhood launched a cash management product that offers users a higher APY on their uninvested cash.

The APY is currently 0.30%, significantly higher than most traditional savings accounts. The cash management product also generates revenue for Robinhood through interchange fees, the amount it earns every time a user swipes their debit card.

Funding, Valuation, and Revenue

Robinhood has raised over $5.5 billion in venture capital funding since its launch in 2013. Its investors include Sequoia Capital, DST Global, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and IVP.

The company’s most recent funding round came in September 2020, where it raised $460 million at a valuation of $11.7 billion. In its S-1 filing, Robinhood reported that it generated $958.8 million in revenue in 2020, a significant increase from the $278 million it generated in 2019.

The company’s revenue comes primarily from payment for order flow, with Robinhood Gold subscriptions and interest on cash providing additional sources of revenue.


Robinhood’s revenue streams, primarily payment for order flow, have faced criticism and scrutiny. The company has responded by publishing monthly reports on its website, disclosing how much revenue it earns from order flow.

It is important to note that the revenue generated from order flow allows Robinhood to offer commission-free trading, making trading more accessible to everyone. In addition to payment for order flow, Robinhood generates revenue from its subscription model, Robinhood Gold, and interest on cash.

The company’s continued growth and profitability have positioned it as a top player in the fintech industry. In conclusion, Robinhood’s success and profitability come from various revenue streams, including payment for order flow, Robinhood Gold subscriptions, interest on cash, and cash management.

While some of these revenue streams, such as payment for order flow, have been met with controversy, they allow Robinhood to offer commission-free trading and democratize finance. Robinhood’s continued growth, profitability, high valuation, and IPO in the near future have positioned it as a top player in the fintech industry.

It is essential to remain informed about where companies, such as Robinhood, make their revenue to make well-informed financial decisions.

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