Fintech’s savings and investing boom isn’t just a domestic affair

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted consumer and corporate behavior across the board. Some changes were obvious and quick, like cuts to business travel leading to layoffs at companies that served that space. Other changes have been more surprising.

One such new trend has been rising interest in savings and investing applications, the type of service fintech startups offer consumers. TechCrunch has covered this trend, noting a number of American fintech and finservices seeing hugely rising user activity and revenue.

Robinhood, the best-known American zero-cost trading app, has seen its trading volume skyrocket along with new user signups. Research into the company’s filings show that its revenue grew to over $90 million in the period as its income from more exotic investments like options advanced.

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The trend of growing consumer interest in saving money (reasonable during an economic crisis) and investing (intelligent when equity prices fell off a cliff in March and April) has helped smaller fintech startups as well. Personal finance platform M1 Finance and Public, a rival zero-cost stock trading service, have also seen growing demand. The trend is so pronounced that new stories seem to crop up every few days concerning yet another savings or investing fintech that is blowing up, like this recent piece concerning Current.

But as Robinhood and other U.S.-based startups are enjoying a bump, fintechs abroad are reveling. In our continuing look at what’s changing in the huge (and hugely capitalized) world of fintech, TechCrunch spoke with Freetrade’s CEO Adam Dodds about what’s happening across the Atlantic. Is Freetrade, a U.K.-based trading app that also offers commission-free trading services, also seeing a wave of consumer demand?

Free trades are popular

Speaking with Dodds about Freetrade, he described a company that is a little bit different from what we’ve become accustomed to with Robinhood. Per the CEO, payment for order flow — the thing that brought Robinhood $90 million in Q1 2020 — is banned in the United Kingdom, so his firm makes money on subscriptions for services like retirement accounts, interest on client cash that is sitting still and some income from foreign-exchange.