IMPORTANT: Why we had to limit the US market on 29th January (not our choice and we engineered a solution)

Dear Community,

We are not a bank.

We are dependent on the banking system to provide services a stockbroker may not or can not. One of those services is FX conversion.

As of late this morning (29th January 2020), our banking provider, one of the big banks in the UK, suddenly decided to severely limit the rate of how many FX conversion trades (US trades) they choose to support, resulting in an 18x reduction in the volume of US trades we can accept.

You heard me on Sky News this morning. We are with you, the retail investor. We are guided by treating customers fairly.

What little number of FX conversion trades this bank chose to support, we have to distribute in the fairest way possible. We allocate bandwidth in a way that, unless any technical challenges, all sell transactions should behave as normal, albeit with a potentially longer wait time to confirm your trade. Right now, all buy transactions are unfortunately blocked.

Our team are working around the clock to resume normal access.

We will update this post as soon as we have news for you.

UPDATE 1: We appreciate you may have signed up for Plus as a result of our commitment to keep systems up and running for you and keep stocks accessible. We will review this and do right by you if you are affected. Please give our customer service team some time to review Plus signups and reach out.

UPDATE 2: Sells were enabled on all US stocks shortly after 3 PM, and we are slowly enabling buys on some other US stocks. You’ll be able to find these on a new collection on your app:

Currently available: (will be regularly updated)

Airbnb
Alibaba
Alphabet
Amazon
AMD
American
Aphria
Aurora
Beyond Meat
BioNano Genomics
Bit Digital
Boeing
Canaan Creative
Churchill Capital IV
Clean Energy Fuels
Clover Health
Coca-Cola
Corsair
Crispr Therapeutics
Disney
Eastman Kodak
EHang
Enphase Energy
Eos Energy
Etsy
Express
Facebook
First Majestic
Fiverr
fuboTV
FuelCell
Gevo
Intel
Jumia
Lemonade
Li Auto
Marathon Patent
Maxeon Solar Technologies
Microsoft
Moderna
Nano Dimension
Netflix
Nikola
Nvidia
PayPal
Pfizer
Plug Power
QuantumScape
ReneSola
Riot Blockchain
Shopify
Social Capital V
Square
Switchback Energy
Tattooed Chef
Tilray
Workhorse
Xpeng

Important disclaimer: this is not a recommendation to buy any of the stocks in the new Currently available collection. We created this collection to be able to showcase what was available to investors.

UPDATE 3: We cancelled batch orders that would have executed from 3 PM today and we returned your cash to your balance.

You can see confirmation of this cancellation on your Activity tab.

UPDATE 4: We’re continuing to do everything possible to rectify the situation caused by our partner’s decision today, and are very sorry for the frustration this has caused.

All Plus members will have their January subscription fee refunded.

142 Likes

Hi Viktor,

I understand your pain and problems being out of your control. I really do. For transparency to your customers, can you please release the name of this provider. People are angry and I think it’s right we know. Who’s done this.

Thank you.

42 Likes

It’s really unfortunate that they’ve let you know with so little notice.

In any case, we are with you FT, as once again you’re proving that you genuinely care about us. I hope a solution will be found soon, and perhaps a backup FX provider will be found.

Very proud of FT!

10 Likes

Why do you not have a plan B? Surely this is a risk that you would have identified before?

Are you going to be issuing refunds to people with plus memberships who essentially have had their stock taken hostage?

22 Likes

Some of us are new and have been left in the lurch with pending queued orders. I get that the FX provider has caused issues, however we can’t even cancel these. What gives? At the very least we should have that option.

4 Likes

Appreciate the transparency, however even selling is currently compromised.

Cancelling an existing limit sell order puts it in a pending state which the app says could be hours. Until it actually cancels, we are frozen out of performing a market sell, meaning we currently have zero control over if and when we can sell stocks.

2 Likes

@adam

I am working for a France based FX/core banking supplier. We will be happy to take part of the FX volume. Hit me up if it can help in any way.

69 Likes

Will you be looking for a new fx partner going forward? You can’t support this type of behavior by continuing to do business with them.

17 Likes

I love this kind of comment. Like anyone ever predicted this never-happened-before thing would happen, so spent time and money working on a backup plan.

33 Likes

In the same boat, have a limit order cancel pending for hours that I only chose as the Instant option was not working. My shares are now sat frozen. Very frustrating when there are no answers and we just have to sit twiddling our thumbs.

3 Likes

So how do we fight this?
This because the bank in question is scared.
I missed the news interview.
We need to marrshall a denunciation of the bank

Some questions:

Who’s your provider?

Did you not have a contingency plan for this scenario?

Will we be recompensated for stock we want to sell at a certain time but can’t without long delays?

4 Likes

Surely its basic risk management? So what were to happen if the FX partner went bankrupt? It’s not just limited to this 1 situation.

4 Likes

FT aren’t a one man band operating out of a garage. Business continuity plans should, as a general point, be on their corporate risk register & reviewed and tested. They are literally designed for scenarios like this.

7 Likes

@Viktor this is the type of community member that helps make freetrade and this forum great

13 Likes

Yes, because ignoring single point of failures is smart.

16 Likes

This scenario was never a thing. Literally hasn’t happened before. Companies don’t spend the huge sums of money required to have a hot spare of an fx bank ready to go for an event that was never going to happen like this.

14 Likes

May as well ask why FT didn’t have a contingency for the sun exploding.

22 Likes

I think we all understand there is an issue here. However this isn’t just an email server going down. Real money is involved and for all intents and purposes we have lost control of that money.

The reasoning that this is the FX provider I’m sure we’ll all take in good faith. However I would argue that it is bad faith leaving us in a position of having queued transactions that we cannot cancel, and which cannot be fulfilled either. I would rather cancel my transaction and withdraw my money from the freetrade. The messaging in app is not exactly clear and is misleading at best. U.S markets are not closed until the 1st of February.

Show us some good faith and allow us to cancel those queued transactions, whether they are purchases or sells at the very least as those queued transactions no longer reflect the reality at the time they were actioned.

8 Likes