Robinhood Releases Crypto Wallet to 2M Users, Plans Integration With Bitcoin Lightning Network

In a pair of announcements from the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, the trading app flexed its crypto chops. But check the fine print.

AccessTimeIconApr 7, 2022 at 5:28 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:01 p.m. UTC
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MIAMI — 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.

Chief Product Officer Aparna Chennapragada made the announcement on stage at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami.

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  • 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. Now, all waitlisted customers outside of regulatory no-go zones Nevada, New York and Hawaii can do so.

    Additionally, she said Robinhood will add support for bitcoin transactions on the Lightning Network, the speedy, low-cost settlement layer 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.

    A slide from the Robinhood presentation at Bitcoin 2022. (Sam Ewen/CoinDesk)
    A slide from the Robinhood presentation at Bitcoin 2022. (Sam Ewen/CoinDesk)

    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 cannot plug into Ethereum-based services as MetaMask does. 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.

    Staking also appears to be off-limits for now. 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. The company said it will apply estimated gas fees but not withdrawal fees to requested outbound transfers.

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

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    Danny Nelson

    Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.


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