SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. (TheStreet) -- Robinhood makes its official debut on Apple's (AAPL) App Store Thursday and is ready to give the E-Trade (ETFC) baby something new to cry about -- millennial investors.
The world's first mobile-first stock brokerage is, a year after announcing its existence, finally opening its doors to the more than half a million people who have signed their name to a waitlist and have been anxiously awaiting their turn for commission-free trading. If early demand for the one-year-old Palo Alto-based startup is a sign of things to come, then incumbent brokerages such as Charles Schwab (SCHW) , TD Ameritrade (AMTD) , E-Trade, and Fidelity should watch their back.
Robinhood has a real shot at stealing their customers and future profits, especially given that tomorrow's trader is already today's Robinhood user: the average beta user is just 27 years of age and checks the app habitually, around 20 times per week.
For those who have yet to hear the Robinhood name -- it's not exactly a secret in financial circles -- the young Silicon Valley company aims to shake up the status quo when it comes to stock brokerages, which typically require account minimums of a few thousand dollars, and tack on between $7 and $10 commission fees per trade.
Robinhood is just the opposite. A typical Robinhood user can sign up on a Monday and start trading U.S. stocks and exchange-traded-funds by Tuesday. All he or she needs is a linked bank account. There are no account minimums and the company vows to never charge fees for trades, accounts, or money transfers. In fact, Robinhood doesn't expect the vast majority of customers to ever pay anything to use the service, co-founders Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt told TheStreet.
"When we say 'free,' we mean that we actually don't expect a customer to pay for the service," Bhatt said. "There is no point along the way where we're going to charge you."