Robinhood Launches Crypto Wallet for 2M Users and Plans Integration with Bitcoin Lightning Network

Robinhood Markets (HOOD) said Thursday it has activated its crypto wallet for 2 million “eligible” customers, making digital asset transfers broadly possible in the long-firewalled investments app.

Aparna Chennapragada, Chief Product Officer, made the announcement at the Bitcoin 2022 conference held in Miami.

Only a handful of wallet beta testers could move bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), dogecoin (DOGE) and a handful of other traded coins in and out of Robinhood’s walled garden before. All customers on waitlist, except those in New York, Nevada, or Hawaii, can now do this.

She also stated that Robinhood will support bitcoin transactions on Lightning Network, which is a fast, low-cost settlement network for Bitcoin.

“For the larger community this is a fantastic way” to access bitcoin cheaply and in a green way, she said, adding that BTC is the top recurring buy on the app.

HOOD’s crypto push

First teased in September, Robinhood’s crypto wallet eschews advanced features like self-custody. “Corporate wallets” control customers’ private keys, a FAQ page read; it said those who want to be their own bank can move their digital assets elsewhere.

That won’t likely matter to the troves of day traders who got their first taste of the crypto markets betting on Robinhood-held DOGE. They can now spend and send those meme coins – perhaps on Dallas Mavericks basketball tickets or a Tesla-branded belt buckle.

Nearly 10 million Robinhood users swapped coins early last year in one sign of the app’s crypto appeal, the company has said. Robinhood’s almost three-year-old crypto trading functionally has produced an explosion of revenue, last quarter generating $48 million for the publicly traded firm.

“Wallets are just the first step we’re taking to connect our customers to the broader crypto ecosystem,” CEO Vlad Tenev said in a press statement.

Limitations

Still, Robinhood’s multi-asset wallet falls short of true functionality. It is not able to connect to Ethereum-based services like MetaMask. It cannot accept ERC-20 tokens, non-fungible tokens (NFT) or any asset outside of Robinhood’s trading list. Tokens generated by airdrops and forks won’t work either.

“Any NFTs sent to a Robinhood Ethereum address may be lost and unrecoverable,” the FAQ page said.

Also, for the moment, it seems that stakes are off limits. Tenev has previously acknowledged customers’ desire for the yield-earning feature and said during last quarter’s earnings call that Robinhood was investing in the necessary tech. A staking service would have to be “compliant,” he said.

Users won’t be charged for moving their Robinhood-based crypto into wallets that have such abilities. According to the company, it will charge estimated gas fees for outbound transfers but not withdrawal fees.

There’s a $5,000 daily cap on outbound transfers and newly acquired crypto stays put until the transaction settles, the web page said. Users must also undergo an identity check to enable two-factor authentication in order to access the wallet.

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