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交易零手续费,这家加密货币交易平台会如何赚钱?

Jen Wieczner 2018年08月13日

该公司高管认为,佣金是历史遗留物,来自于电子交易出现以前,在现代社会中已无立足之地。

Robinhood给了老式股票经纪商一个赚钱的机会:零手续费进行任何交易,无论是苹果公司的股票还是比特币,但这并不意味着这家初创企业本身一定会盈利。

Robinhood目前价值56亿美元,在私营金融科技行业中排名第二,而400多万的用户量让它略压“老大哥”E*Trade一头,后者截至5月末的用户数量为390万。Robinhood的联合首席执行官维拉德·特内夫告诉《财富》杂志,今年2月推出加密货币交易推动了用户增长——Robinhood Crypto上线后的爆发期内,每天都会新增20多万名用户。

但和依然可以盈利的零佣金股票交易不同,Robinhood基本上是在免费赠送加密货币交易服务。

在《财富》杂志最新一期的加密货币和金融科技周播节目《Balancing the Ledger》中,特内夫说:“我们不打算在可预见的时间里借此赚很多钱。我们的计划是把这项业务做的收支平衡。”

这和推特的首席执行官杰克·多尔西创立的支付公司Square的情况很相似。今年早些时候,Square在自己的应用程序Cash上推出了手续费为零的比特币交易服务。上个月Square披露,此项服务运营一个季度后,该公司通过比特币买卖仅获利22.3万美元。

刚刚起步的加密货币行业缺乏做市商,Square和Robinhood等其他交易平台通常都直接在公开的加密货币交易所买入比特币等加密货币,然后将其卖给投资者,同时寄希望于借买卖差价牟利。但这很难实现,特别是在加密货币的高波动性造成其价格频繁震荡的情况下。

特内夫和另一位联合首席执行官拜朱·巴哈特认为这没什么,他们把加密货币(Robinhood目前支持比特币和以太坊交易)视为新手参与较传统资产交易的敲门砖,而较传统的资产交易可以带来较高的利润率。

特内夫说:“这背后的思路是我们真正的工作是建立一个生态系统。目前的产品是投资型的,所以加密货币可以跟其他一万多种人们可以交易的投资工具非常好的共存。”

Robinhood的股票业务利润较高,因为它赚钱的途径是把股票借给做空方(即希望在股价下跌时赚钱的投资者),进而收取手续费。它还通过现金存款获取利息,并提供高端订阅服务Robinhood Gold,后者具有保证金交易等更先进的功能。

特内夫认为佣金是历史遗留物,来自于电子交易出现以前,在现代社会中已无立足之地,因为普通券商的主要开支只剩下数据中心、网络和基础设施的运营和维护费,这和许多公司每笔交易5-10美元的手续费相差甚远。

特内夫说:“成本基本上已经降到零。所以我们的方法是借助技术和自动化把这些交易的绝大多数价值放回到用户的口袋里。”

他指出,Robinhood希望今后能把这样的哲学扩展到目前的经纪-交易业务以外,最好能像美国银行那样提供各种各样的服务,甚至更多。

“我觉得这不光限于投资型产品。在整个金融服务领域里,消费者都处于被压榨的地位。”

特内夫还说,加密货币也是如此。Robinhood已经开始追踪16种加密货币的价格和市场数据,包括莱特币、瑞波币和Zcash,而且可能很快就会为这些加密货币提供交易支持。

他指出:“我们确实打算扩大今后的业务范围,把其他加密货币包括进来。”但Robinhood正在谨慎推进此事,而且会把监管部门的指导意见考虑在内,以便判断这些加密货币会不会成为非法证券。

特内夫说,Robinhood还在仔细辨别其他因素,比如“这个加密货币背后的团队在干什么?他们合法吗?他们有什么样的背景?”同时,该公司还要考虑这些加密货币的稳定性和防黑客能力。“比如几周前针对比特币黄金(Bitcoin Gold)的51%攻击,那真是让人大开眼界。”(良辰财富网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

 

Robinhood is giving old-fashioned stock brokers a run for their money by offering no-fee trading on everything from Apple stock to Bitcoin—but that doesn’t mean the startup itself necessarily makes money.

Currently worth $5.6 billion, Robinhood is the second most valuable private fintech company and boasts more than 4 million customer accounts, edging out its older rival E*Trade, which had 3.9 million at the end of May. It helped that Robinhood launched cryptocurrency trading in February: More than 200,000 new customers per day signed up during a surge following the launch of Robinhood Crypto, the company’s co-CEO, Vlad Tenev, tells Fortune.

Yet unlike zero-commission stock trading, which can still be profitable, Robinhood is basically giving crypto trading away for free.

“We don’t intend to make very much money on it at all for the foreseeable future,” Tenev says on the latest episode of “Balancing the Ledger,” Fortune’s weekly show about cryptocurrency and fintech. “We intend to operate it as a breakeven business.”

That’s not so different from the experience of Square, the payments company founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, which began offering no-fee Bitcoin trading through its Cash app earlier this year. Last month, Square reported it made just $223,000 more selling the Bitcoin than it paid to buy it over the first quarter of sales.

With a dearth of market makers in the nascent cryptocurrency industry, Square and other trading platforms like Robinhood typically buy their Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies straight from public crypto exchanges and then resell them to investors, hoping to profit on the spread, or difference, between the purchase and sale price. But that can be tricky, especially when cryptocurrency’s high volatility results in frequent price swings.

That doesn’t matter to Tenev and his co-CEO Baiju Bhatt, who see cryptocurrency—Robinhood currently offers trading in both Bitcoin and Ethereum—as an entree for newbies into trading other more traditional assets on which it reaps higher margins.

“The thinking behind that is what we’re really doing is building an ecosystem,” Tenev says. “Right now the products are investing products, so crypto slots in very nicely alongside the 10,000 plus other instruments that people can trade.”

Robinhood’s stock business is more lucrative, as it makes money by lending shares out to short-sellers (investors who seek to make money when stock prices decline), charging the borrowers for the privilege. The company also collects interest on cash deposits, and offers a premium subscription service Robinhood Gold with more advanced functions such as margin trading.

Tenev believes commission fees are a relic of the past, left over from the days before electronic trading existed, and no longer have a place in the modern world where a typical brokerage’s main expenses are down to operating and maintaining its data centers, networks and infrastructure—a drop in the bucket compared to the $5 to $10 many charge per trade.

“The cost has gone to essentially zero,” Tenev says. “So our approach is use technology and automation to put the vast majority of the value of that transaction back into customers’ pockets.”

In the future, Robinhood hopes to expand that philosophy beyond just its current structure as a broker-dealer, and ideally offer everything Bank of America currently provides—and more, Tenev says.

“I think it doesn’t stop with just investing products,” he says. “Customers are getting ripped off across the board in financial services.”

That includes cryptocurrency, he adds. Robinhood already tracks prices and market data for 16 different virtual currencies including Litecoin, Ripple and Zcash, and may soon allow trading in them too.

“We’re definitely looking to expand the future set and add more coins,” Tenev says. The company is proceeding cautiously, though, taking into account regulators’ guidance about whether certain cryptocurrencies may constitute illegal securities or not.

Robinhood is also looking carefully at factors such as, “What’s the team behind this coin doing? Are they legitimate, what are their backgrounds?” says Tenev, adding the company also takes account of a cryptocurrencies’ stability and resistance to hacks. “Like 51% attacks for instance, which we know happened to Bitcoin Gold a couple of weeks ago,” Tenev adds. “That was very eye-opening.”

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