Robinhood ditches Apex — builds its own brokerage
When the current infrastructure won’t support new innovations, build your own.
Robinhood joins Wealthfront Inc. in replacing Apex Clearing Corporation with their own custom built brokerage. That may not sound very exciting, but it is.
Moving away from Apex and building their own custom solution has allowed Wealthfront to deliver new products to market that no other robo has provided included 526 plans and a Portfolio Line of Credit. In April of 2017 Wealthfront announced what it then termed its new operating system. Rija Javed, who lead the engineering efforts, wrote:
“Wealthfront, like many other fintech companies, was built on top of brokerage firms offering access to standard brokerage and banking capabilities through APIs. Unfortunately, these brokerage firms are running on legacy systems and infrastructure from the 1960s, and many of their APIs are built on top of semi-manual processes and disjointed systems. This blocks many desired improvements and hinders our ability to achieve end-to-end automation, a requirement to support our growth.” — April 2017, Introducing Our New Operating System
It seems like the robo revolution has been going on for quite some time, but announcements like this are a reminder that things are only just getting started. Old infrastructure only takes you so far. Sometimes innovation requires the hard work of building old services from scratch. I’m excited to see what Robinhood (and Wealthfront) build next.