Robinhood’s sinking value is proof that ‘free’ can often be very costly - Peter Jonathan Wilcheck
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//Robinhood’s sinking value is proof that ‘free’ can often be very costly

Robinhood’s sinking value is proof that ‘free’ can often be very costly

One thing I love about fintech is the promise of unlocking more tools for more people. In a broad sense, the current era of fintech has done just that — people around the world now have access to financial services that were earlier either completely out of reach before, or, at a minimum, prohibitively expensive.

Neobanks, fintech APIs, new savings programs, infinite cards for different payment methods, stablecoins for cross-border payments, cheaper fiat transfers, and, of course, zero-cost trading have improved how the average person can use, store, and interact with money. It pretty much rules.

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The tech has proved darn neat, but there are some issues on the business model side of things. As it turns out, not charging for what was once a paid service is a great way to accrete customers, but it’s also an at-times tricky way of making money. This is a lesson that Robinhood is in the process of learning — and as a public company, sharing with the rest of the world.

This week, Robinhood reported Q1 earnings that were far under street expectations. CNBC notes that the company’s per share loss of $0.45 was $0.09 worse than analysts’ expectations, and that the company’s revenue result of $299 million was off by around $57 million. Shares of Robinhood are trading sharply lower this morning.

Parsing the Robinhood earnings presentation this morning, it’s clear that the equities trading boom that powered its hyper-growth has passed. And, of all the company’s products, the most durable remains its most controversial — yes, Robinhood’s options trading revenues once again accounts for the majority of its transaction income, following declines in the value of stock trades and crypto trading activity.

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