Tuesday 22 January 2019 9:00 am

Robinhood rival Freetrade moves into US stocks as transatlantic retail investing battle hots up

London fintech startup Freetrade has today launched US stock trading on its app, in the midst of growing rivalry in the commission-free trading space.

The app, which offers users the ability to invest in stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) directly without paying commission, said it will start with a curated list of 120 US stocks, including the likes of Apple, Amazon and Tesla.

Freetrade already offers trading for UK stocks to 10,000 users, with more than 90,000 customers still on its waiting list. Chief executive Adam Dodds told City A.M. the app is growing its user base by 10 per cent every week, and hopes to be able to close the waiting list by the end of March.

The move comes as US rival Robinhood, which is valued at $5.6bn (£4.3bn) and has opened 6m accounts, is said to be hiring in London for an impending UK launch. According to media reports this month, Robinhood has been recruiting for roles in marketing, product development and compliance, with some prominent fintech names rumoured for the top job.

Read more: London tech startups raked in almost double their European counterparts in 2018

Digital bank Revolut also promised to launch zero-fee trading in June last year, but a final product has yet to surface. 

Dodds said the Brick Lane-based startup plans to raise another round of funding this year, largely to power a rapid increase in hiring. Currently sitting in a 28-person office, the firm is expecting to double its engineering team by the end of March and to reach at least 100 employees by the 2019.

He added that Freetrade has had no trouble attracting strong talent for its skilled teams, despite reports that Brexit has dampened hiring in the City. 

"There's lots of talent in the City, that's for sure," he said.

To celebrate the launch, Freetrade revealed to City A.M. its top 10 most sought-after stocks on both sides of the Atlantic ocean since the start of the year.

Greggs came out on top in the UK, thanks to a boost provided by its new vegan sausage rolls line. The on-the-go food retailer even lifted its profit outlook for the current quarter earlier this month, thanks to unprecedented demand for the niche product.

Top 10 US stocksTop 10 UK stocks
1. Apple1. Greggs
2. Tesla2. Lloyds
3. Amazon3. Glaxosmithkline 
4. Netflix4. BT
5. Disney5. ITV
6. Facebook 6. ITV
7. Snap7. Shell
8. Microsoft8. Vodafone
9. Berkshire Hathaway 9. Tesco
10. Google10. Sirius Minerals 

Source: Freetrade, data from 2 January to 14 January