In the race to free trading and fractional shares, there are new companies popping up all the time. But Public isn't new - it's actually a rebrand of one of the first app-based investing products called Matador.
However, they have cleaned up their app, made it easier to use, and continue to focus on commission-free investing and fractional share investing.
How do they compare now that most major brokerage firms also offer commission free trading? Let's check it out in our Public investing app review.
- Commission-free investing app with no minimum deposit
- Allowing investing in fractional shares
- Community of traders and investors
- Earn 2.5% interest on first $10,000 in cash
Public Investing App Details
What Is Public?
Public is an app-based stock brokerage company that doesn’t charge commissions on trades. The company’s legal name is Matador Trading LLC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of TapX Trading & Analytics, Inc. doing business as T3 Securities, Inc., a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC. Public used to be called Matador, but then changed the front-facing name of the company to Public.
Public was founded in 2017. There are four founders: Jannick Malling, Matt Kennedy, Peter Quinn, and Sean Hendelman. Public has had two funding rounds: a September 2018 seed round of $2 million and a March 2019 Series A round of $6.5 million.
What Do They Offer?
Public provides commission-free brokerage services for trading stocks in small units, called slices. By slicing stock shares into smaller units, Public makes them accessible to more people. Instead of paying by the share, you pay by the dollar. Additionally, you earn 2.5% interest on uninvested cash up to $10,000.
Everything is done through the Public mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android. The iOS app has a rating of 4.3/5.0 out of 505 ratings. The Android app has a rating of 3.7/6.00 out of 47 ratings. The Android app is newer that the iOS app and they are pushing out updates consistently.
There is also a community of traders. Some of them are subject matter experts. In the community, you can follow traders and see the trades they’re making. You can also share different trading and investment ideas.
For stocks that pay dividends, you have the option to reinvest the dividend back into the stock. Public does not charge a fee for this service. If you’d like to reinvest your dividends, contact Public through the app’s chat feature.
There are over 5,000 public stocks and ETFs on Public. OTC (over-the-counter) stocks are not offered. OTC stocks aren’t available because Public considers them too risky. OTC stocks do not have the same regulatory or reporting requirements as stocks on larger exchanges such as the NYSE or NASDAQ.
They are also one of a growing number of companies that allow you to invest in fractional shares - which means that you can get started investing in pricier stocks with less capital up front.
For those who day-trade, Public may not be the best option. They allow periodic day trading, but if it is done all the time, the trader’s account will be restricted. Accounts that have four or more good faith violations will be restricted for 90 days by Public’s clearing firm, Apex Clearing.
If you are looking to trade, look for an app that specializes in trading like WeBull.
Public is offering an awesome promotion of 2.5% interest on the first $10,000 of cash balance in your account. This is is a great bonus to earn on a small amount of cash.
However, given the $10,000 limit, if you're only looking to deposit cash, you might find better options with a high yield savings account.
Public does not allow the use of leverage. Your buying power will equal the amount of cash deposited in the account. In some cases, your buying power may be less than the cash balance, which can happen if there are outstanding/pending orders.
Are There Any Fees?
Public is commission-free but there may be small exchange fees incurred for trades. Additionally, there are fees for various services:
- All broker-assisted phone trades: $30
- Domestic wire transfer: $30
- Domestic overnight check: $35
- Returned check, ACH, wire and recall/stop payments: $30
- ACAT outgoing: $75
- Paper statements: $35
How Do I Open an Account?
An account can be opened through the mobile app. You can download the mobile app for iOS or Android from https://public.com. Part of the application process includes an investor profile. This is standard across brokerages.
The requirements for opening an account are:
- Being 18 years of age
- Having a valid Social Security number
- Having a legal U.S. residential address
- Being a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident, or having a valid visa
You can also transfer funds from another brokerage to Public, which Public does not charge a fee for. If the transferring firm does charge a fee, let Public know because they say, “in most cases, we’ll cover it!”
You can also fund the account with an ACH transfer from your bank. There is no minimum deposit required. Checks can be mailed in as well. Note that Public charges $75 to transfer money out of Public to another brokerage.
You may not be able to withdraw money if funds have not yet settled from recent trades.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes — Public is SIPC-insured up to $500,000 in securities for each customer account. Public also uses AES 128-bit encryption and TLS 1.2 to secure data in transit.
Is It Worth It?
There are similar commission-free brokerages available. Most have some social aspect, and the quality of the social component is what really sets each of these brokerages apart. Additionally, you may gravitate to the community of one brokerage and not the other.
There’s a low barrier to entry to find out if you like Public or not. App functionality will also play a role in your decision. Is Public worth trying out? Certainly — it could turn out to be the one commission-free brokerage service that you enjoy the most.