Cash deposited in Robinhood's 3% checking and savings isn't insured, SIPC says

Cash in Robinhood's new checking and savings products that were rolled out this week is not insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corp.

Cash deposited in Robinhood's new checking and savings product that was rolled out this week by the fintech investing platform is not insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corp., the nonprofit membership corporation said Friday.

Robinhood made headlines on Thursday when it announced that the new products can earn 3 percent, much better than what traditional banks offer on checking and savings accounts. It's also the highest yield among online banks and other fintechs known to provide generous deposit rates.

Robinhood's checking and savings products are not traditional bank accounts. They are simply separate balances held within a Robinhood brokerage account.

The company said Thursday that the cash held in these balances was insured by the SIPC, rather than the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which protects bank deposits.

But on Friday the SIPC – which oversees the liquidation of broker-dealers if they go bankrupt or close because of financial trouble – said the protection it offered Robinhood customers was narrower in scope.

"SIPC protects cash that is deposited with a brokerage firm for one limited purpose ... the purpose of purchasing securities," according to a statement from SIPC President and CEO Stephen Harbeck. "Cash deposited for other reasons would not be protected," he said in the statement. "SIPC does not protect checking and savings accounts since the money has not been deposited for a protected purpose."

Under the heading "Is my money insured?" on the Robinhood FAQ, the company said:

"Your cash in Robinhood is insured up to $250,000 by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). SIPC protects cash deposits in your account in the unlikely event that Robinhood fails."

In an interview with USA TODAY on Thursday, Baiju Bhatt, CEO and co-founder of Robinhood, reiterated: "The insurance amount is the same (as the FDIC) and it allows us to offer this high rate."

Robinhood did not contact the SIPC before publicly announcing its checking and savings products, Harbeck said Friday. Because the SIPC is not a regulator, Harbeck referred the matter to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"It's more appropriate for the SEC to take the lead on this," he said.

Calls to the Securities and Exchange Commission were not immediately returned. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, of which Robinhood is a member, declined to comment.

Robinhood did not return a request for comment on Friday. Its website continues to allow people to sign up for its checking and savings product as of Friday afternoon.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cash deposited in Robinhood's 3% checking and savings isn't insured, SIPC says