Robinhood, a U.S.-based owner of a stock-trading app, is heading across the Atlantic as it’s been granted a license to operate by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.

The app, available in the states since 2013, allows smartphone stock and cryptocurrency trading, without commission fees. The announcement followed months of reports as the company quietly hired people in London to staff the new operation. Wander Rutgers, who previously worked in senior product roles at fintech firms Plum and Transferwise, heads the U.K. arm, Robinhood International Ltd.

The U.K. approval “is a critical step to achieve our mission of democratizing finance for all,” the Menlo Park, California-based firm said in a statement.

In the U.S., Robinhood has applied for a banking license to offer savings and checking accounts.

  • Robinhood is valued at $7.6 billion, based on having raised $323m in a round led by DST Global, Bloomberg reported July 22. 
  • The firm focuses on millennials and last year started Bitcoin and Ethereum trading in a number of U.S. states, including California. Robinhood has drawn criticism for storing some user passwords in plaintext on internal systems.
  • Instead of fees, the firm lends money from customers’ cash balances, earning interest.
  • Karma Takeaway: Robinhood will be challenged by U.K. digital bank Revolut, which has announced U.S. expansion and has a significant U.K. presence.