Robinhood will begin testing crypto wallets as it tries to expand into Bitcoin and NFTs

Robinhood said it plans to begin testing cryptocurrency wallets next month to allow its users to move, send and receive cryptocurrencies in and out of the Robinhood app.

The American financial services company based in California said on Wednesday a broader rollout will be launched in early 2022.

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

What is a crypto wallet?

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 democratising 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 will pick small group of respondents to begin testing the new wallets and provide feedback, Chennapragada said.

    This is the natural next step for us when we think about democratising finance for all,

    Aparna Chennapragada Robinhood's chief product officer

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

    Crypto concerns

    But the announcement comes amid months of volatility on the crypto markets as fears about US regulation mount.

    Just this week crypto prices plummeted, with Bitcoin shedding about 7 per cent on Monday, re-sparking the debate on if cryptos should serve as a safe-haven asset.

    What are the features of the wallet?

    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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