Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Robinhood’s Fine Print on Free Bitcoin Trades Is a Big Buzzkill

Robinhood Financial LLC’s fine print is a real buzzkill.

The broker, which already offers free stock trades, announced Thursday that some customers will get to place commission-free trades of Bitcoin and Ether starting in February. Its website promises 24/7 cryptocurrency trading with the headline “DON’T SLEEP.”

But scroll down, and things start sounding dire.

“Cryptocurrency trading may not generally be appropriate,” according to text written in a tiny font at the bottom of the page. “Cryptocurrency trading can lead to large and immediate financial losses.” Robinhood goes on to note that several U.S. regulators have highlighted the risks of trading these things.

Baiju Bhatt, a Robinhood co-founder, waxes optimistic.

“Bitcoin has a resiliency to it,” he told Bloomberg in an interview. “This is something that we also feel like really fundamentally aligns with the mission of the company -- to make the financial system more accessible to the rest of us.”

See also: Robinhood is adding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency trading

The website is far less sanguine:

“Trading in cryptocurrencies comes with significant risks, including volatile market price swings or flash crashes, market manipulation and cybersecurity risks.”

The warning hasn’t deterred the 150,000 people who signed up within a few hours to get early access to these new trading privileges.

— With assistance by Matthew Leising

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