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Stock trading app Robinhood gets UK broker license
Robinhood, the Silicon Valley-based stock trading app that was recently valued by investors at $7.6 billion, has received regulatory approval in the U.K., breaking cover on its plans to set up shop in London (as reported exclusively by TechCrunch 7 months ago). Specifically, Robinhood International Ltd., a Robinhood subsidiary, has been authorised to operate as a broker (with some restrictions) in the U.K. by the Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates U.K. financial services. This gears Robinhood up for a U.K. launch, although the company is staying tightlipped on when exactly that will be. In addition, Robinhood is disclosing that it has appointed Wander Rutgers as President of Robinhood International. He joins from London fintech Plum, where he headed up the startup’s investing and savings product, and prior to that is said to have led product, compliance and operations teams at TransferWise. At Robinhood, Rutgers will lead the U.K. business and oversee the company’s new London office, which has already begun staffing up. Sources told me in April that Robinhood was busy hiring for multiple U.K. positions, including recruitment, operations, marketing/PR, customer support, compliance and product. The company tells me it is also building out a London-based user research team so it can better find product-market fit here. Crudely building a localised version of Robinhood obviously won’t cut it. Meanwhile, news that Robinhood is ramping its planned U.K. launch is interesting in the context of local fintech startups that have launched their own fee-free trading offerings. First out of the gate was London-based Freetrade, which chose very early on to build a bona-fide “challenger broker,” including obtaining the required license from the FCA, rather than simply partnering with an established broker. The app lets you invest in stocks and ETFs. Trades are “fee-free” if you are happy for your buy or