UK Robinhood rival Freetrade raises £50m

Saleha Riaz
·2 min read
Photo: Freetrade
Freetrade CEO Adam Dodds. Photo: Freetrade

Freetrade, the London-based investment app that competes with Robinhood, said it raised £50m ($69m) in a Series B oversubscribed funding round led by US growth equity firm Left Lane Capital

It said the funds will accelerate its growth in international markets, expand its team and scale its product and technology.

L Catterton, an investor in consumer brands, and existing investor, Draper Esprit, also participated.

"The round is expected to be worth in excess of £50m, as we’re also making a secondary opportunity available to all existing shareholders. These global funds join our existing shareholder register, which includes over 13,000 individual investors from seven previous, record-breaking crowdfunding campaigns," said Freetrade CEO Adam Dodds.

It also said it has more than 600,000 registered users, and that its Q1 2021 trade volumes exceeded £1bn.

The completion of the investment round is subject to approval by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Freetrade does not charge commission on individual trades, "with the aim of getting everyone investing," Draper Esprit said in a statement.

READ MORE: GameStop frenzy prompts FCA risk warning to young investors

It said the goal is to help customers achieve better financial outcomes at low cost and educate new and experienced investors in developing long-term investing habits.

"Freetrade has seen explosive growth in the last 12 months as markets everywhere have seen increased retail investor participation," the statement added.

Freetrade was one of the apps that disabled buy orders for US stocks in the wake of the GameStop (GME) shares frenzy when stock in GameStop rose dramatically over the course of a few days in late January, driven in part by discussion on a now-famous Reddit thread called r/WallStreetBets.

Global regulators including the FCA fired warning shots on the GameStop saga and Robinhood and Interactive Brokers sparked an outrage after the platforms restricted its users from trading GameStop.

Earlier this week, the FCA warned that investment apps are attracting a younger crowd of investors who may not realise the risks and may not be buying stocks for the right reason.

Meanwhile, Robinhood scrapped plans to launch in the UK amid growing criticism of its platform in the US. Around a quarter of a million Brits on the startup’s waiting list were told that plans to launch had been suspended.

The startup has faced mounting criticism of its business model. Critics said its game-like interface and easy access to complex products sets users up for large losses and encourages irresponsible trading.

The Silicon Valley company targets millennial investors and has proved hugely popular in the US. The company has over 13 million users and has been valued at $8.6bn (£6.7bn), making it a so-called tech ‘unicorn.’ Robinhood had raised over $1bn in funding since founding in 2013.

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