Robinhood ditches confetti in stock trading app amid criticism

Robinhood plans to stop showering users in digital confetti amid criticism that the signature animation made risky investing too much like a game.

The confetti would pop up on Robinhood’s mobile app when retail traders reached “investing milestones,” such as making their first trade or depositing money in their account.

But starting next week, the confetti will be replaced with new animations that are a bit more subtle, like three-dimensional shapes floating through space or a rotating golden circle to mark a new signup for the Robinhood Gold premium service.

In a Wednesday blog post announcing the move, Robinhood — which has filed paperwork to go public — called these updated graphics “dynamic visual experiences that cheer on customers through the milestones in their financial journeys.”

Robinhood has made the confetti a key part of its branding — it even released an ad showing the stuff shooting out of traders’ cellphones while they sat at a dinner table or in a coffee shop.

But Robinhood honcho Madhu Muthukumar told The Wall Street Journal that the confetti had become “misconstrued” as regulators raised concerns about it.

“If the focus of a conversation is around confetti and not around [everyday investors] taking these first steps … then we’ve done something that’s just off base,” Muthukumar, Robinhood’s senior director of product management, told the paper.

The colorful feature has drawn the ire of Massachusetts Securities Division, which cited the confetti in a December complaint over Robinhood’s alleged “gamification” of investing that encourages users to keep buying and selling stocks to the startup’s financial benefit.

Gary Gensler, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, also raised concerns about Robinhood’s tactics in a Senate hearing earlier this month.

“What does it mean when balloons and confetti are dropping and you have behavioral prompts to do more transactions on what appears to be a free trading app?” he told lawmakers. “I think we’re going to study that and look at it.”