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Robinhood Is Losing Thousands of Traders to a China-Owned Rival

Webull offers free trades and has picked up users after outages at Robinhood this year.

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Illustration: Inkee Wang for Bloomberg Businessweek
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Even in a year full of surprises on Wall Street, this one stands out: A Chinese-owned brokerage has quietly built one of the fastest-growing retail trading platforms in the U.S.

Webull, founded by Wang Anquan, an alum of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has increased its roster of brokerage clients by about tenfold this year, to more than 2 million, by offering free stock trades with a slick online interface. While that’s still a fraction of the more than 13 million at Robinhood, the broker that popularized commission-free trading, Webull says it’s been peeling off users from its rival. The company has plans to pursue a big funding round from private U.S. investors and may expand into automated financial advice and money management with a so-called robo-adviser service.