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Look out for more millennial buyers of cryptocurrency now that it’s free to purchase

It’s an asset, not a payment method.

Gold itcoin medals in Japan Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty

Millennials have flocked to platforms like Robinhood in order to quickly and cheaply use their phones to trade stocks — a technology that has leveled the stock-picking playing field.

Now expect the same sort of change in cryptocurrency markets, which Robinhood said today it was entering. Beginning next month, Robinhood users in five states will be able to trade bitcoin and ethereum — for free, in contrast to other competing portals.

This is obviously just the beginning. The market won’t be transformed by five states’ worth of traders in just two new currencies. But it is another sign of how cryptocurrencies over the last year have shifted from the fringes to the mainstream — it might not make sense for businesses like Stripe to use bitcoin as a medium for transactions, but cryptocurrencies are becoming relevant as an asset class in and of itself.

Robinhood promises to enable trading in more states after this February wave, and to allow users to track up to sixteen different currencies.

So with no fees, how will Robinhood make money? A company rep tells me they intend to break even on their crypto offerings — while expanding their total number of users. They currently have more than three million.

That, the company believes, will drive more cash to their site and their premium offering, Robinhood Gold.

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