Robinhood's crypto COO on retail 'ebbs and flows,' NFTs, and new coin listings

Robinhood's crypto COO on retail 'ebbs and flows,' NFTs, and new coin listings

Robinhood was hit by a slowdown in its crypto business during the third quarter, but the business unit's chief operating officer, Christine Brown, is optimistic.

On this episode of The Scoop, Brown told host Frank Chaparro that "business is good" at the brokerage company.

"More than 60 percent of Robinhood funded accounts traded crypto in Q2, and now everyone, everyone listening should know that retail is very cyclical," she said, foreshadowing the firm's earnings drop on Tuesday. "There's ebbs and flows."

Robinhood reported a decline in crypto activity from its levels in the previous quarter, "leading to considerably fewer new funded accounts."

Yet Robinhood hasn't moved as fast on launching new products and listing new coins, allowing rivals like Coinbase to take advantage of hype cycles around cryptocurrencies like Solana and Shiba Inu. And Robinhood's long-asked-for crypto wallet, announced in September, may not launch until next year.

"We are actively rolling out the alpha and we have a small group of customers, about five to 10 people, who are going to be actively working with us through the last pieces of the customer experience," Brown said.

As for new listings, Brown said the firm is taking a "safety-first approach," indicating the firm won't add new coins anytime soon.

"We only have seven coins on our platform. That's an incredibly curated set of assets, especially if you think of other exchanges out there where there might be hundreds," she said. "We want to make sure that what we list makes sense, that we are working with our regulators in the proper way."

Robinhood's slow and steady approach to listing new coins was further emphasized by the firm's CEO Vlad Tenev, who said during Tuesday's earnings call that "[t]he regulatory environment, in terms of new coins and lending products in crypto, is uncertain and evolving."

He added: "We're having to carefully evaluate whether we can add new coins in a way that's safe for customers and in line with regulatory requirements."

As for NFTs, Brown said that the firm would "be remiss to not consider" launching a product akin to Coinbase's upcoming marketplace.

"This second NFT wave that we're looking at is really focused on on digital art," she said. "But I think there are so many other uses for it as well."

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