For several years, my grandmother has encouraged me to get involved with the stock market. While she was successful at persuading my older brother into investing in penny stocks, I have never taken the initiative to learn how the stock market truly works. For that reason, I was excited when I heard about a brand new app called Robinhood, which provides zero-commission stock trading at your fingertips.
While online brokers are nothing new, with existing firms such as Interactive Brokers and E-Trade, Robinhood is a mobile-first service that doesn’t require a desktop. Whether you are a twenty-something college student that doesn’t fully understand how the stock market functions, an experienced Wall Street stock trader, or fall somewhere in between, the app makes stock trading easier for the masses.
Robinhood for iPhone has several features that makes the stock market more accessible from your pocket, including the ability to buy and sell U.S. listed stocks and exchange-traded funds with zero commission collected, place market orders and limit orders to get the best possible trade executions, support for margin trading, no account minimum and the ability to build a personalized stock watch list, track market data in real-time and access historical data and graphs for stocks.
The app has an intuitive color scheme for automatically knowing if the stock market is closed or open, or whether you have made a profit or loss on a particular stock. Margin trading has a gold color scheme. Robinhood also plans to introduce a Today view widget in the future, allowing for users to oversee stocks from Notification Center on iOS 8 or later, although it provided no specific timeframe for that feature.
Robinhood is rolling out today on the App Store for iPhone and is currently limited to users aged 18 years or older in the United States. The company has an international expansion on its roadmap, although co-founder Baiju Bhatt tells me that a global launch could be at least one year out due to the complexity of opening a brokerage. Android and web versions of the service are listed as coming soon.
The app supports most U.S. banks, including Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fidelity, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab and USAA. The sign-up process takes about four to five minutes, while getting account approval can take an additional one to three business days. Robinhood will begin inviting people from the early access wait list to create their accounts starting today.
You will need to provide Robinhood with your basic personal information, social security number and online banking login to create an account. Robinhood offers Touch ID support on iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, in addition to fully encrypting and securely storing sensitive information. Bank login information, passwords and any tokens are never stored or cached on Robinhood’s servers.
Robinhood is an attractive new solution for stock trading, especially for millennials that are just coming of financial age. With a mobile-first approach, simplistic yet intuitive user interface, zero commissions, no account balance minimum required and several other features, Robinhood has the potential to be a game changer in the online brokerage and stock trading landscape.