Trading startup Robinhood launches fractional share purchases on app

NEW YORK, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Commission-free stock trading startup Robinhood said on Thursday that its users will be able to invest in fractional shares via its app, a move that further intensifies competition in the online discount brokerage market.

Through the new feature, Robinhood users with as little as $1 to invest will be able to buy a fraction of a share of large companies including Inc, Apple Inc and Walt Disney Co., Robinhood said.

The Menlo Park, California-based company hopes the new feature will make it easier for more people to start investing, Vlad Tenev, co-CEO and co-founder of Robinhood, said in an interview.

Robinhood’s new offering comes two weeks after U.S. discount broker Charles Schwab Corp said it had entered into an agreement to acquire rival TD Ameritrade Holding Corp in a $26 billion deal that is set to create an online brokerage behemoth.

Roughly a month earlier Schwab had announced it would allow fractional share trading, in an effort to attract younger clients. (Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)