Robinhood grabbed our attention for years while it was still on the drawing board. The company succeeded in rocking the financial boat when it launched in Dec 2014 as the first mobile-first, fee-free brokerage, allowing users to trade stocks without commissions or account fees right from your smartphone. Today, the company is announcing partnerships that will let users of financial services StockTwits ( one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies in Finance in 2012), Openfolio, and Quantopian trade directly using Robinhood’s platform. (Educational finance company Rubicoin will also integrate Robinhood services when it launches in December.)
Robinhood itself isn’t getting any new features, but users who also have accounts with Robinhood’s new partners will get to use widgets and buttons inside those respective apps. For social financial platforms StockTwits and Openfolio, this means looking at trading activity and immediately being able to trade without having to switch into Robinhood’s app. The same is true for Quantopian, a maker of trading algorithms. Perhaps best of all, routing through Robinhood means users can trade without paying commission fees.
"It’s never been done before in this space," says Robinhood cofounder Vladimir Tenev. "It connects Robinhood customers to powerful investment tools, and actually adds value to these partners who have a lot of interesting tools in finance but have not been able to transact seamlessly before."
Robinhood chose to partner with existing companies rather than expand its own portfolio of services so that everyone involved is focusing on what they already specialize in, says Tenev.
"There’s been a lot of creativity in the space, and no possible way that we can create every type of product for every customer," he adds. "The interface cannot possibly stay focused and easy-to-use if we were to add every possible feature that a financial customer might want within Robinhood."
Natural exposure to Robinhood through those widgets could mean more users filtering in from partner services, but any projected user gains are hard to predict, says Tenev. There are more partnerships on the horizon, but Robinhood isn't talking about which companies will be involved.