The company plans to hit up college coffee shops to spread the word about its services. When credit card companies did it a generation ago, Congress got involved.
Robinhood, the free stock-trading app with 21 million active users and counting, is about to hit the road for a college coffeehouse tour to drum up new customers.
The campus antics that the card companies got up to two decades ago were so egregious that they helped lead to a 2009 federal law that made it harder for anyone under 21 to get their products in the first place.
There are some important differences. Credit card issuers can put marks on your record that can keep you from qualifying for an apartment or other services years later. Robinhood is handing out a mere $15 to give each student a taste of investing.
But here’s what they have in common: Both products are habit-forming, and if you get in over your head, the ramifications can be costly.