Brokerage mobile app Robinhood came under fire Thursday after it temporarily restricted transactions of certain securities following an unexpected surge in trading volume of shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, Bed Bath & Beyond, BlackBerry and other stocks.
|AMC||AMC ENTERTAINMENT HOLDINGS INC||36.77||-0.84||-2.23%|
|BBBY||BED BATH & BEYOND, INC.||20.24||-0.66||-3.16%|
The share prices of those securities spiked this week as retail investors, spurred by the online Reddit forum WallStreetBets, piled into the stocks that many expected to fall, thereby hurting short-sellers and sparking dismay on Wall Street.
Robinhood founder Vladimir Tenev in a Thursday evening statement said that starting on Friday, the app would begin allowing limited buys of the securities it restricted and "continue to monitor the situation and may make adjustments as needed."
"We cannot control ... the lightning-fast spread of information and misinformation that takes place on social media, and for that I am incredibly sorry to our customers and staff for this," he said.
Other mobile brokerage apps like TD Ameritrade also restricted trading, but Robinhood came into the spotlight after politicians and celebrities including Dave Portnoy, founder of the popular media company Barstool Sports, railed against the app's decision to restrict trading as a move that put amateur investors at a disadvantage.
Portnoy said in one Thursday tweet that Ameritrade's restrictions were expected, but Robinhood's "entire business model is to cater to the exact people they are now trying to f--k with and scare into selling. They will never recover from this."
Despite this, Robinhood's app ranked No. 1. overall among free iPhone apps in the United States on Wednesday, according to mobile app analytics website App Annie. The app remained in the No. 1 position among top free apps on the App Store as of Friday morning.
Here are some other trending mobile trading apps giving Robinhood a run for its money:
WeBull on Friday ranked No. 2 among top free apps and No. 2 among finance apps on the App Store after Robinhood. The free app ranked No. 30 overall among free iPhone apps Wednesday, whereas one day before, Jan. 26, the app did not even rank in the top 100 free iPhone apps, according to App Annie.
The app, like Robinhood, also restricted trading for certain securities Wednesday but reversed restrictions on Thursday.
WeBull has more than 106,000 reviews and 4.7 out of 5.0 stars on the App Store. On Google Play, the app has more than 86,000 reviews and 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.
Users can trade stocks, ETFs and options with no commission fee. New users who open a WeBull brokerage account are eligible to earn two free stocks valued between $2.50 and $250, along with more additional free stocks when users make initial deposits of more than $100 and successfully refer friends, according to WellBull's description.
Cash App, another popular app among new and young investors, ranked No. 14 overall among iPhone downloads on Wednesday and jumped up to No. 12 overall Thursday, according to App Annie. Cash App ranked No. 7 among free iPhone apps on Friday morning and No. 4 in the App Store's finance section.
The free app differs from Robinhood and other trading apps in that it also serves as a general mobile banking app that aims to help users save, send and receive money; get paychecks early; buy and sell Bitcoin; and buy and sell stocks without a commission fee.
Cash App also offers a customizable Visa debit card called a Cash Card to its users. The app has 4.7 out of 5.0 stars on the App Store and 1.1 million reviews. On Google Play, it has more than 310,000 reviews and about 4.1 out of 5.0 stars.
MooMoo is another trading app aimed at making investing easier for novice investors that has gained popularity over recent months. The app, which is free to download, allows users to invest in U.S. stock options, ETFs and "other opportunities," according to its description.
MooMoo said Thursday that the executing broker blocked orders of GME, but AMC, BlackBerry and Nokia stocks were still available.
Users also have access to more than 50 free technical indicators in the app's "smart charts," customized screeners and access to trading and quotes between 4 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. EST and during post-market hours between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST.
MooMoo -- which has more than 1,200 reviews and 4.7 out of 5.0 stars on the App Store, as well as about 4.5 out of 5.0 stars and 1,300 reviews on Google Play -- does not charge commission fees and is free to download.
TradeStation offers trading options for stocks, ETFs, options, futures and cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin.
The app, which is free to download and does not charge commission fees, offers real-time streaming quotes and alerts on price and volume shifts, candlestick stars, chart intervals with custom time frames, and risk measurement statistics.
TradeStation has 13,000 reviews on the App Store and 4.6 out of 5.0 stars. On Google Play, it has more than 3,000 reviews and about 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.
Acorns is similar to Robinhood and MooMoo in that it is designed to make investing as easy as possible for "up and coming" investors, beginning with micro-investing, according to its description.
The free app has more than 8 million users and is designed to help people "grow" their money. Acorns offers "automatic Round-Ups," meaning it invests users' spare change; allows users to set up IRAs and invest for children; job offerings; and more.
Acorns ranked No. 15 among finance apps on the App Store as of Friday morning. It has nearly 700,000 reviews and 4.8 out of 5.0 stars among iPhone users. On Google Play, the app has nearly 138,000 reviews and 4.1 out of 5.0 stars
Portnoy took Robinhood's decision as an opportunity to promote another mobile brokerage app called TradeZero, pointing out in a Thursday tweet that the alternative app was still allowing all transactions and had not crashed yet, in contrast with a number of other brokerage apps that experienced outages on Wednesday.
TradeZero responded to the tweet saying, "And we will never become rigged!! Down with the suits!"
The app, which allows users to trade stocks live from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST daily and without a commission fee using its SMART router, ranked No. 45 among business apps on the App Store Thursday and has 25 reviews averaging three out of five stars.