Robinhood to remove controversial confetti from app

The retail trading app Robinhood announced on Wednesday that it would be removing its confetti feature amid criticism that it “gamified” stock-trading for users.

In a blog post, Robinhood said it would be replacing the confetti feature with new visual designs. The new features appear to show a gentler image of floating shapes when investing milestones are reached.

“In the past, we used the same confetti design to celebrate firsts with customers. Those included customers’ first trades, their first steps with cash management, and successful referrals of friends and family. Now, we’re introducing new, dynamic visual experiences that cheer on customers through the milestones in their financial journeys,” Robinhood said.

The new features will go into effect beginning next week.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, the confetti feature has long been a point of contention for the company, with critics saying the feature “gamified” investing. The company has previously defended the feature against such criticism.

In a complaint filed against Robinhood by Manhattan securities regulators last year, the confetti feature was mentioned as one of several features the app used to incentivize users to repeatedly engage with the app, the Journal notes.

Senior director of product management at Robinhood, Madhu Muthukumar, told the Journal that the confetti feature was getting “misconstrued” and was accomplishing the opposite of what his company wanted.

Muthukumar said the confetti “seems to have distracted from the goal of the app, which is to make regular people, everyday folks who have been kept out of the market, feel like they can participate and feel like they are being positively reinforced for taking steps in their financial life.”

The company recently confidentially filed for an initial public offering (IPO), which allows it to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) without having to immediately reveal financial details. The Journal notes that Robinhood will likely seek to mend its reputation following the Gamergate controversy earlier this year as it continues its plans for an IPO.

“Confetti, while it’s acknowledging something, can also take away from the text and what’s literally on the screen,” Robinhood head of design Rich Bessel told the Journal. “We feel customers, based on feedback, will spend slightly more time on the screen as a result of this and understand exactly what action they took and what resulted.”