In a classic case of fintech over-reach, stocktrading app Robinhood has backtracked on the launch of its Checking & Savings account after a backlash from regulatory bodies.
Launched to much fanfare last week, Robinhood Checking & Savings was billed as a direct threat to the traditional banking industry, offering a debit card and market-beating three percent rate on deposits.
However, buried in the small print was the admission that the account consisted of separate balances held within a Robinhood brokerage account. That means funds are not FDIC-insured, but - according to the company - would instead be protected by insurance to the tune of $250,000 from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, or SIPC.
Unfortunately, Robinhood forgot to ask for the regulator's approval, prompting the SIPC's furious head Stephen Harbeck to report the company to the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying: "Money that is doing nothing but earning interest looks like a loan. We do not protect loans to a broker-dealer."
As the storm clouds gathered. Robinhood moved to scrub the page promoting Checking & Savings to its six million users and delete all its victorious tweets about the product.
In an open letter to users, Robinhood co-founders Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev, offered little contrition, but instead reached out to clear up some 'confusion'.
"We realise the announcement may have caused some confusion," they write. "As a licensed broker-dealer, we’re highly regulated and take clear communication very seriously. We plan to work closely with regulators as we prepare to launch our cash management program, and we’re revamping our marketing materials, including the name."
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