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Jan 8, 2024
(Updated on
Jan 4, 2024
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Robinhood's Crypto Expansion in the EU and It’s Marketing Strategies

Source: Robinhood

Robinhood has once again made headlines with its ambitious expansion into the European Union (EU) through the launch of its commission-free cryptocurrency trading app. The move comes as the fintech giant seeks to tap into international markets following its recent foray into the UK's stock-broking arena. This article explores the details of Robinhood's crypto launch in the EU and delves into the marketing strategies that have been pivotal to the platform's success.

On December 7, 2023, Robinhood Markets Inc. officially unveiled its cryptocurrency trading service for European investors. The app provides access to more than 25 digital currencies, including popular choices like Bitcoin, Ether, and Solana's SOL. This strategic expansion marks Robinhood's second major venture outside the United States, underscoring its commitment to unlocking growth in international markets. The launch aligns with a notable recovery in cryptocurrency prices, driven by expectations of potential US interest-rate adjustments and the anticipation of the industry's first Bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund (ETF). Robinhood Crypto's General Manager, Johann Kerbrat, highlighted the platform's ability to adapt to market dynamics and meet the rising demand for crypto trading.

One of the standout features of Robinhood's EU crypto offering is the introduction of a cashback-like loyalty program. Users will receive a percentage of their monthly trading volume credited in Bitcoin. This innovative approach not only incentivizes active trading but also fosters a sense of loyalty among users, a crucial aspect in the competitive world of fintech. To comprehend the brilliance of Robinhood's marketing strategy, it's imperative to reflect on the platform's early days. When the company was in its infancy, it faced the challenge of limited resources and zero systems in place. This scrappy environment led to the creation of a marketing strategy that would later become a blueprint for success.

Source: Robinhood

The Head of Content at a fintech startup, in the early stages of its journey, found inspiration in Robinhood's early marketing tactics. At the core of Robinhood's strategy was a waiting list campaign that incorporated elements of hype, referral programs, and gamification. Unlike conventional campaigns lasting a month or two, Robinhood's prelaunch campaign extended for over a year, generating anticipation and user engagement.

Robinhood's waiting list campaign was not just a static lineup. Users joining the waitlist would start at the end, but the game-changing element was the referral program. Inviting friends to join the waitlist behind you allowed users to move up in line. The addition of gamification, akin to pulling a slot machine lever, added an exciting dimension. This strategic move, unconventional in its duration and execution, laid the foundation for Robinhood's early customer acquisition success. Robinhood's waiting list campaign was more than just a line; it was a community-building initiative. The platform leveraged incentives to encourage users to refer friends and family. Referral incentives included not only moving up in the queue but also receiving free stocks. This approach not only fueled the growth of Robinhood's user base but also generated buzz on platforms like Reddit, where users enthusiastically discussed the stocks they received and their experiences with the platform.

A closer look at Robinhood's Waiting List campaign reveals a meticulous approach to design and copy. The evolution of design elements over time is evident in images found online. However, what remained consistent was the copy. The lesson here is the importance of A/B/C testing on copy before visuals, showcasing Robinhood's commitment to refining its messaging for optimal impact. Robinhood's early success story underscores the potency of word-of-mouth marketing. By creating a buzz around its waiting list campaign and referral incentives, Robinhood turned its users into brand advocates. The organic, user-driven growth propelled the platform to new heights, establishing a robust community that contributed to its long-term success.

Fast forward to the present, and Robinhood is applying similar principles in its expansion into the EU's crypto market. The platform aims to entice European users with the promise of commission-free trading and a user-friendly interface. The cashback-like loyalty program, a derivative of Robinhood's early waiting list campaign, adds a layer of incentive for users to actively engage with the platform. While offering commission-free trading, Robinhood doesn't operate as a charity. The platform generates revenue through a strategic model where it takes rebates from market makers and trading venues executing trades on its behalf. In the EU, the rebate per trade is around 65 basis points, significantly higher than the 35 basis points earned from crypto orders in the US. This model ensures sustainability and aligns with Robinhood's commitment to providing value while operating as a business. Navigating the regulatory landscape is crucial for any fintech firm, and Robinhood is no exception. The platform, having been registered as a virtual currency exchange operator in Lithuania since September, is actively seeking approvals in more EU countries. The impending Markets in Cryptoassets (MiCA) regime, set to be enforced in early 2025, will require Robinhood to gain full authorization as a crypto service provider in at least one EU member state.

Source: Jakub Porzycki, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Robinhood is not perfect; in 2020 and 2021, Robinhood faced significant backlash during the unprecedented surges in stocks like AMC, GameStop and Nokia, as well as the booming cryptocurrency market. The backlash was particularly strong in response to Robinhood's decision to temporarily restrict trading on some stocks, including those that were well-liked by retail investors on websites like Reddit's WallStreetBets. As the retail trading frenzy reached its peak, Robinhood's move to limit buying activity for stocks like AMC Entertainment and Nokia triggered outrage among users who felt their ability to freely participate in the market was unfairly curtailed. The platform's actions fueled accusations of market manipulation and collusion with institutional interests, leading to widespread criticism from both users and the broader public. The controversy underscored the challenges faced by trading platforms in balancing the demands of retail investors with the complexities of market dynamics during periods of extreme volatility.

Robinhood's journey from a scrappy startup with zero systems in place to a global fintech giant is a testament to its innovative approach to marketing and customer acquisition. The waiting list campaign that marked its early days laid the groundwork for a community-driven growth model that continues to be relevant. As Robinhood expands its crypto services into the EU, the echoes of its early success resonate, showcasing the enduring power of strategic marketing and user-centric initiatives. The platform's ability to adapt and evolve, staying true to its commitment to democratizing finance, positions Robinhood as a pioneer in the ever-changing landscape of fintech.

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