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US stock trading app Robinhood launching in the UK

A US trading app which helped spark a stock-buying frenzy during the pandemic is coming to the UK.

Robinhood, which gained notoriety during the GameStop saga – when small-scale individual investors take on major professional investors, has embarked on its first overseas expansion.

The platform is rolling out its brokerage services in the UK, giving customers access to trading of more than 6,000 US-listed stocks such as Tesla and Amazon.

It does not charge commission to buy and sell stocks, and people can start building an investment portfolio with just one US dollar (79p).

Users of the app, which is regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), can also earn 5% interest on uninvested cash, which is converted from pounds to dollars.

“We couldn’t be more excited to launch in the UK,” Jordan Sinclair, the president of Robinhood UK told the PA news agency.

He said the investment market is “still dominated by traditional brokers” who charge high fees to invest in the US and other overseas markets, and earn low returns on uninvested cash.

“People’s needs still aren’t being met in the UK… it feels like change is still needed,” he said.

Robinhood opened a waiting list on Thursday for UK residents, who will be notified when they can sign-up for early access. The platform is expected to be publicly available in 2024.

UK-based investors will only be able to access US equities, but Mr Sinclair hinted that the firm would be looking to expand its offering.

It comes as politicians and business leaders are exploring ways to boost interest in Britain’s stock markets and attract more companies to list on the London Stock Exchange.

Robinhood users will also be able to trade outside of market hours, with a 24-hour service in the app that Mr Sinclair described as a “game changer” for retail investors.

In early 2021, US video game retailer GameStop was at the centre of a phenomenon which saw individual investors buy large volumes of shares in a battle against professionals who were betting against its share price falling.

People swapped tips on forums and used apps like Robinhood to buy shares in the company, causing its share price to fluctuate.

In September, the FCA warned people about investment risks around the release of Dumb Money, a film profiling the events and featuring Paul Dano and Seth Rogen.

It formed part of the watchdog’s InvestSmart campaign, which encourages consumers to make better-informed investing decisions which suit their attitude to risk.

Mr Sinclair said Robinhood has “grown and matured” since the events, and that it targets people of all ages investing for the long-term.