Technology

Robinhood to launch in Britain with deal to buy crypto app Ziglu

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A woman holds a smartphone with the Robinhood logo in the background.

Rafael Henrique | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Robinhood said Tuesday it has agreed to buy Ziglu, a London-based fintech app that allows users to trade bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies. The acquisition will help in its expansion plans in the U.K. and Europe, the company said.

The announcement comes nearly two years after Robinhood halted plans to launch in the U.K. At the time, the company said it was prioritizing its business at home over international expansion.

Shares of Robinhood climbed more than 5% Tuesday.

The deal could provide a crucial boost to growth prospects for Robinhood, whose performance has weakened since the GameStop trading frenzy last year.

Robinhood reported a drop in monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2021 — to 17.3 million from 18.9 million in the previous quarter — and said it expects first-quarter 2022 revenue of less than $340 million, down 35% from the year-earlier period. The company has lost roughly two-thirds of its market value since debuting on the Nasdaq last summer.

Vlad Tenev, Robinhood’s CEO and co-founder, said the purchase of Ziglu “will help us accelerate our global expansion efforts.”

“Together with the Ziglu team, we’ll work to leverage the best of both companies, exploring new ways to innovate and break down barriers for customers across the UK and Europe,” Tenev said in a blog post.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, Robinhood said.

Founded in 2018, Ziglu allows users to make payments, invest in a range of cryptocurrencies and earn interest on holdings of bitcoin and British pounds sterling.

The company has raised a total of £17.5 million ($22.8 million) to date, including £13.4 million from retail investors through the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs. It was last valued at £85 million.

It is one of the few crypto concerns that has managed to register with the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority. Registration is a key requirement for digital asset firms looking to operate in the country.

The regulator recently extended a deadline for firms to make the cut after numerous companies withdrew their applications.

Mark Hipperson, Ziglu’s CEO, was previously a co-founder of British digital bank Starling. Ziglu and Robinhood “share a common set of goals,” he said.

“As part of Robinhood, we’ll supercharge Robinhood’s expansion across Europe and bring better access to crypto and its benefits to millions more customers,” Hipperson said.

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