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Robinhood to begin testing crypto wallets, with broader launch in early 2022

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Robinhood Markets Inc (HOOD.O) said on Wednesday it plans to begin testing cryptocurrency wallets next month, with a broader rollout in early 2022, allowing its users to move supported digital currencies in and out of their brokerage accounts.

The Menlo Park-based retail brokerage currently allows buying, selling and holding of certain cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin and dogecoin, and last quarter saw crypto transactions exceed equities transactions for the first time.

Customers of Robinhood, which benefited from a boom in retail trading during the pandemic, have long asked for crypto wallets, which would allow them to participate more broadly in blockchain-based ecosystems, such as buying virtual assets like non-fungible tokens (NTFs) on the Ethereum network.

“This is the natural next step for us when we think about democratizing finance for all, being able to have a lot more people from a lot of different contexts participate in this emerging market, and wallets are the key,” Aparna Chennapragada, Robinhood’s chief product officer, said in an interview.”

The company plans to survey its current crypto-trading customers, which make up around 60 per cent of the app’s 21.3 million active users, and pick small group of respondents to begin testing the new wallets and provide feedback, Chennapragada said.

Robinhood customers can also join a wait list for future access to the wallets as part of a phased rollout, she said.

The wallets will include security features such as identity verification, multi-factor authentication, and email and phone verification to keep coins safe from hacks and other threats, the company said.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is make sure that this is built safely, built securely,” which was one of the main challenges in developing the new feature, said Chennapragada.

Robinhood said it would maintain 0 per cent commissions for crypto trades once the wallets are launched.

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