As the Dow Jones Industrial Average enjoyed the single biggest point-gain in the history of the index, Robinhood’s application fell prey to an error that locked users out of the service for the duration of Monday’s trading.
“We started experiencing downtime issues across our platform this morning at market open,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “We don’t have an estimate when the issue will be resolved but all of us at Robinhood are working as hard as we can to resume service.”
One potential cause of the outages could just be the high trading volumes that have accompanied highly volatile markets over the past month. While there were some early reports that the bug was caused by a Leap Day bug, the company has denied that a February 29th error was at fault.
The company’s mistake could cost its users lots of money as they sought to trade on stocks that were hit in last week’s string of losses due to investor worries over the impact the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, would have on the global economy.
This isn’t the first time that Robinhood’s code has got the company into trouble. Last year, faulty coding allowed users to borrow more money than the company intended, giving a potential windfall to would-be traders.
Back in 2013 when the founders of the company discussed their idea around TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine’s kitchen table, they envisioned the app as a way to share hot tips. That quickly morphed into a trading platform that the company says has more than 10 million users on its platform.
The secret to the company’s initial success was free stock trading — a pricing model which many of its competitors have since gone on to copy.
According to Apptopia, Robinhood is far and away the most popular of the free stock trading services, having far more volume and users than its legacy contenders. However, as today’s outage showed, that user base may be negatively impacted by not working with companies who have had their services stress tested over decades. Even so, the big trading houses have also experienced technical issues over the past week, as CNBC reported earlier today.