Finance

Freetrade, Britain’s answer to Robinhood, posted its first quarterly profit

The Freetrade logo on a smartphone screen.
Rafael Henrique | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

British stock trading app Freetrade hit eked out breakeven earlier this year, the company told CNBC, marking its first-ever move into the black after incurring full-year losses in 2023.

Freetrade reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of £100,000 ($124,863) in the first quarter of 2024, according to unaudited financial statements shared with CNBC.

Preliminary revenue hit £6.7 million in the quarter.

Freetrade still generated a loss of £8.3 million in 2023, down from the £28.8 million loss it racked up the year before. Revenues climbed to £21.6 million last year, up 45% from 2022.

“We defied difficult market conditions and delivered healthy growth in 2023 while dramatically reducing losses” in 2022, said Adam Dodds, CEO and founder of Freetrade.

Equity crowdfunders rejoice

The development will be welcome news for Freetrade’s crowdfunding investors, who’ve been looking for an update on the company’s move toward profitability after a tough financial period.

Freetrade saw its valuation reduced by 65% to £225 million ($280.3 million) from £650 million in 2023 in its latest equity crowdfunding round on Crowdcube, with the company blaming a “different market environment” plagued by higher interest rates and inflation.

Net inflows totalled £130 million in the first quarter, too, as retail investor activity grew in response to resurgent markets last year. Assets under administration also reached £1.8 billion.

“Importantly for our crowdfunding investors, we laid out a clear path towards breakeven during our last fundraise,” Dodds said.

“As we look ahead to the rest of 2024, we’ve got major product developments that are going to support our next phase of growth with preparations being made to roll out our web platform.”

Equity markets saw serious drops in 2022 as a result of macroeconomic uncertainty and higher interest rates stoked by Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, which triggered a risk-off trade around the world.

Britain’s answer to Robinhood

Freetrade is a competitor to Robinhood, the U.S. stock trading platform. Robinhood recently relaunched in the U.K. in March, in its third attempt to crack the European market.

Freetrade’s Dodds said he’s undeterred by Robinhood’s move back into the U.K., telling CNBC via email that “more choice and competition are good for retail customers.”

“Ultimately, there will be multiple winners in the UK market, offering the full range of tax-wrappers and features that the local retail investor expects,” he added.

Freetrade said its first-quarter performance was driven by higher trading volumes as well as higher foreign exchange income.

Since October 2023, Freetrade said it has seen a marked increase in retail investor participation amid speculation over when and how often the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks will cut rates this year.

A rally in crypto prices also helped Freetrade in the first quarter. Though the platform doesn’t offer crypto trading, Freetrade experienced increased retail investor activity in crypto-correlated stocks like Coinbase, MicroStrategy, and Marathon Digital.

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