Robinhood dives deeper into crypto with addition of Aave and Tezos

Commission-free brokerage Robinhood Markets added two new crypto tokens, Tezos (XTZ) and Aave (AAVE), bringing its total line up to 19.

The new offerings are high-flying DeFi tokens as demand has boomed and industry heavyweights continue to back decentralized finance.

Aave, a decentralized lending protocol that lets users lend or borrow cryptocurrency without going to a centralized intermediary, surged almost 5% an hour after the news. However, XTZ, the utility token of a proof-of-stake blockchain network, shows muted reaction and was relatively unmoved.

Robinhood said the move to expand its crypto offering comes as customers have consistently requested a more extensive set of coins and tokens as well as the ability to send and receive cryptocurrencies. While many are near worthless, the cryptocurrencies listed by Robinhood tend to be among the better known and more valuable assets.

Earlier, Robinhood rolled out crypto wallets to the approximately two million customers on its waitlist and then completed the full roll-out to all customers. Those early birds are now able to hold and custody their own cryptocurrencies and NFTs in a separate, stand-alone app.

Robinhood also expanded its retail-focused cryptocurrency offerings through the addition of USDC stablecoin. The company’s users are able to send and receive the second-largest stablecoin by market cap on both Polygon and Ethereum networks.

The new features put Robinhood squarely in competition with crypto-native giants like Coinbase and Binance.US.

Crypto customers also benefit from Robinhood’s integration with the Lightning Network, which powers near-instantaneous Bitcoin transfers globally. Eventually, this technology, once fully integrated, is expected to help accelerate Robinhood’s ability to serve Bitcoin remittances on a global scale – at virtually no cost – and will be important for international expansion.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev revealed plans to let go nearly a quarter of its staff with employees from all departments will be impacted. The changes are particularly concentrated in the company’s operations, marketing, and program management functions

The layoffs came as Robinhood released its Q2 2022 earnings which saw total revenue of $318 million over the three months through June 2022, 44 percent lower than the same period in 2021.

Robinhood had initially planned to cut nearly 10 percent of its full-time staff, but CEO said this did not go far enough. The zero-fee app had staffed up assuming that the heightened interest in trading from retail investors after the meme-stock phenomenon would carry into 2022. This assumption has run into the headwinds of inflation and the crypto winter that are affecting activity at all retail platforms.