In the wake of Robinhood’s surprise trading block, a new class of Reddit investors are looking for apps that will let them plow their money into their favorite stocks. On Thursday morning, Robinhood announced that it would temporarily block investors from purchasing or trading companies including GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Nokia, all of which have been the subject of unexpected rallies over the past few days. But for the online communities that fueled those rallies, the block is being treated as an outright betrayal.
Discussion about switching ramped up on Twitter and in investment discords after Robinhood halted buying and trading on stock, citing “recent volatility” in the market with the aforementioned stock as the reason it prevented additional trading.
Since the decision, Robinhood’s app on the App Store has received thousands of one-star reviews as a form of practice known as review bombing. On the r/WallStreetBets subreddit, angry Robinhood users are calling for a class action lawsuit because “allowing people to only sell is the definition of market manipulation,” according to one post. There’s even a new subreddit specifically for suing the company. Another Robinhood user tweeted that after years of being on the platform, the move felt like a “slap to the face,” adding “to be regulated in a time of absolute prime opportunities is an embarrassment.”
On Twitter, beloved rapper and Fyre Fest promoter Ja Rule did not mince words: “Yo this is a fucking CRIME what @RobinhoodApp is doin.”
Robinhood has been central to much of the chaos within the financial sector over the last few days. Investors from r/WallStreetBets or its private Discord server used the personal finance app to inflate GameStop and other stocks as a blow against Wall Street hedge funds. But now that Robinhood has taken steps to stem the rally, the r/WallStreetBets community feels betrayed — and is already looking for alternatives.
“Yo this is a fucking CRIME what @RobinhoodApp is doin”
The list of brokerages that have stopped allowing trades and buys of the aforementioned stock continue to grow: Robinhood, TD Ameritrade, and Interactive Brokers, and WeBull have all halted trading. But Public, an app similar to Robinhood, has continued to allow buys and trades without restriction, although the app “has added Safety Labels to help inform and provide context to our users before they make a trade,” a spokesperson told The Verge.
For Robinhood competitors like Public, it’s a golden opportunity. In fact, Public is doubling the free stock slice for member referrals today. Popular YouTube personality Casey Neistat tweeted on Thursday morning just after the Robinhood halting began that “everyone complaining about @RobinhoodApp delisting GameStop and I’m over here on @public about to get Bill Gates rich.” He later said that no one should take investment advice from him and that he’s an investor in Public.
“Also im an investor in public and i hope this ridiculous behavior from Robinhood brings attention to superior companies (like Public),” Neistat tweeted.
Switching to a competitor will still add some friction — and might cost investors valuable time in an exceptionally volatile situation. When creating an account on Public, for instance people may have to wait a few days for their application to be approved, according to a message that appears during the signup process. If people are trying to get in on GameStop and AMC while the magic rally is still in effect, that delay might defeat the purpose — although at least one Verge reporter had their account approved in the same day.
“You’d think with a brand name like Robinhood you’d be all about the working class outsmarting the rich”
Most apps also allow investors to transfer their portfolios from other brokerages, including Robinhood, which could be faster. But there’s still likely to be a significant delay.
Webull is another investment app, and the FAQ states that “in most cases, account application is approved automatically.” Webull’s website also states that people can trade in the same day if “you deposit via ACH before 4:00 pm on a trading day” — basically, if funds are transferred from something like a bank to Webull. The site also states, however, that people “will get a provisional credit (up to $1000 depending on the incoming deposit) of buying power after your deposit,” which gives people “provisional buying power to trade.”
Transferring stocks from one app to another, or flocking to another app to buy stocks, seems tedious — but as long as it’s unclear when Robinhood and other brokerages will allow purchases, GameStop’s new stockholders are left with no other choice. At the time of publication, GameStop’s stock was sitting at $155 — down from yesterday’s high of $468, but still more than triple where the stock was last week.
“You’d think with a brand name like Robinhood you’d be all about the working class outsmarting the rich,” popular YouTube creator Ricky “FaZe Banks” Bengston tweeted. “You guys fkn blew it.”