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Amid gamification accusations, Robinhood ditches confetti

Amid gamification accusations, Robinhood ditches confetti

Robinhood has removed the digital confetti with which it showers users' screens amid concerns about the stock trading app's gamification of investing.

Since 2016, confetti has flooded traders' screens when they hit milestones such as their first trades, their first steps with cash management, and successful referrals of friends and family.

However, in December Massachusetts securities regulators cited the practice in a complaint as an example of gamification strategies designed to attract inexperienced investors.

Robinhood "relentlessly bombards them with a number of strategies designed to encourage and incentivize continuous and repeated engagement with its application," said the complaint.

In a blog, Robinhood says it is replacing the confetti with new "dynamic visual experiences that cheer on customers through the milestones in their financial journeys".

Madhu Muthukumar, senior director, product management, Robinhood, tells the Wall Street Journal that the confetti "is getting really misconstrued, and I think it’s actually doing the opposite of what we want".

As its popularity has soared over the last year, Robinhood has found itself under intense scrutiny.

In December it was hit with a $65 million fine by the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading customers about payment for order flow practices that cost traders over £34 million in lost gains.

Then in February, it emerged that US regulators have made inquiries about the trading restrictions the app put on stocks such as GameStop during the Reddit-led rallies earlier this year.

At the time, Robinhood said it was also aware of around 46 putative class actions and three individual actions that have been filed against it.

All of this comes as the firm gears up for a blockbuster initial public offering.

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