US Public.com Throws In the Towel in Battle for the UK Traders

by Damian Chmiel
  • The retail trading company exits the UK market due to intense competition just after 8 months.
  • Public.com also confirmed it wants to focus on the growth in its home market.
United kingdom, london
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Competition in the UK's retail trading market turned out to be too great for New York-based investing platform Public.com, which suspended its local operations just eight months after launching in the region. The situation was certainly not improved by the fact that Robinhood recently entered the local market with its own brokerage services, increasing market saturation even further.

Public.com Shuts Down UK Operations to Focus on US Growth

In an email sent to Public's UK users on Monday (yesterday) and seen by City A.M., the company stated it will be "suspending operations in the UK" as of 3 May 2024. The correspondence clarified that all UK accounts will be closed permanently after 30 April 2024.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Public.com confirmed to City A.M. that "with even more accelerated growth in the US, especially from recent feature launches such as a five per cent high-yield account, corporate bonds and options trading, we decided it's better to focus on US business for now."

In an email addressed to Public's UK users on Monday (yesterday) and obtained by City A.M., the company announced its decision to "suspend operations in the UK" starting from May 3, 2024. The message clarified that all UK accounts will be permanently closed after April 30, 2024. In response to inquiries, a spokesperson for Public.com confirmed to City A.M. that "given the accelerated growth in the US, particularly following recent feature launches such as a five percent high-yield account, corporate bonds, and options trading, we have chosen to prioritize our US operations for the time being."

The abrupt about-face marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for Public.com's UK operations. The trading platform launched with much fanfare this past July, its first expansion outside of its domestic US market. At the time, the Public's CEO, Leif Abraham, touted London as "the financial epicentre of Europe" and a "natural place for Public to start our international expansion."

However, just six months later, these international aspirations have been scrapped entirely as Public looks to consolidate its resources stateside. It is unclear at this point what the decision means for jobs at Public's London office. The company also operates offices in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, which appear to be unaffected by this move.

The UK's Retail Trading Markets Seems Too Crowded

Industry analysts suggest Public's retreat reflects the fierce and crowded competition in the UK's retail investing space. The market was shaken up last November when the popular trading app Robinhood announced plans to launch in the region. With Robinhood competing for market share alongside upstarts like Freetrade and more established players like Hargreaves Lansdown and eToro, some experts questioned whether the UK was big enough to support another new entrant.

"My question is if the UK market is big enough for three new players," Simon Taylor, a fintech analyst, commented for City A.M. late last year amid a flurry of new companies entering the fray.

The UK has also proven a difficult geography for trading apps to crack. Robinhood itself delayed its UK launch multiple times over several years before finally debuting last autumn. That launch came with the backing of the UK government, which has sought to stimulate growth in the country's fintech sector.

In the meantime, Public.com says its domestic US business will continue unaffected by the shutdown of UK operations. The company expects to channel investments into improving new services for its American customer base going forward.

Competition in the UK's retail trading market turned out to be too great for New York-based investing platform Public.com, which suspended its local operations just eight months after launching in the region. The situation was certainly not improved by the fact that Robinhood recently entered the local market with its own brokerage services, increasing market saturation even further.

Public.com Shuts Down UK Operations to Focus on US Growth

In an email sent to Public's UK users on Monday (yesterday) and seen by City A.M., the company stated it will be "suspending operations in the UK" as of 3 May 2024. The correspondence clarified that all UK accounts will be closed permanently after 30 April 2024.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Public.com confirmed to City A.M. that "with even more accelerated growth in the US, especially from recent feature launches such as a five per cent high-yield account, corporate bonds and options trading, we decided it's better to focus on US business for now."

In an email addressed to Public's UK users on Monday (yesterday) and obtained by City A.M., the company announced its decision to "suspend operations in the UK" starting from May 3, 2024. The message clarified that all UK accounts will be permanently closed after April 30, 2024. In response to inquiries, a spokesperson for Public.com confirmed to City A.M. that "given the accelerated growth in the US, particularly following recent feature launches such as a five percent high-yield account, corporate bonds, and options trading, we have chosen to prioritize our US operations for the time being."

The abrupt about-face marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for Public.com's UK operations. The trading platform launched with much fanfare this past July, its first expansion outside of its domestic US market. At the time, the Public's CEO, Leif Abraham, touted London as "the financial epicentre of Europe" and a "natural place for Public to start our international expansion."

However, just six months later, these international aspirations have been scrapped entirely as Public looks to consolidate its resources stateside. It is unclear at this point what the decision means for jobs at Public's London office. The company also operates offices in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, which appear to be unaffected by this move.

The UK's Retail Trading Markets Seems Too Crowded

Industry analysts suggest Public's retreat reflects the fierce and crowded competition in the UK's retail investing space. The market was shaken up last November when the popular trading app Robinhood announced plans to launch in the region. With Robinhood competing for market share alongside upstarts like Freetrade and more established players like Hargreaves Lansdown and eToro, some experts questioned whether the UK was big enough to support another new entrant.

"My question is if the UK market is big enough for three new players," Simon Taylor, a fintech analyst, commented for City A.M. late last year amid a flurry of new companies entering the fray.

The UK has also proven a difficult geography for trading apps to crack. Robinhood itself delayed its UK launch multiple times over several years before finally debuting last autumn. That launch came with the backing of the UK government, which has sought to stimulate growth in the country's fintech sector.

In the meantime, Public.com says its domestic US business will continue unaffected by the shutdown of UK operations. The company expects to channel investments into improving new services for its American customer base going forward.

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