How does Public make money?

Public is on a mission to accelerate all people’s prosperity. We do this by making it possible to own the companies you believe in, with any amount of money — commission-free.

As a commission-free stock brokerage, we are often asked, “How do you make money?” We believe transparency is an important pillar of building trust, so here we go.

This is how we make money.

Securities lending

There are some people whose investment strategy includes shorting stock. Short selling simply means that someone will borrow stock in order to sell it at the current market price, all with the end goal of buying it back at a lower price and returning the borrowed shares to the lender. Their goal is to profit off the delta between the short sale and the cost of buying the shares back.

How Stock Lending Works

So, where does Public fit in? Our clearing firm is connected to a network of these types of investors and can lend out stock to them to short, which generates revenue for us. Importantly, this solution is entirely seamless, meaning that our members have an uninterrupted experience and are always able to sell their shares.

As disclosed in your application, our clearing firm is allowed to lend your securities to other correspondents. We make money on that via a lending rebate.

Interest on cash balances

We earn interest on uninvested cash balances. The current interest rate as set by the Federal Reserve is 0.2%.

Smart order routing

We also make money through smart order routing. Our clearing firm directs our orders to order routing destinations, and on certain transactions, we receive a rebate. Bear in mind that it is the legal responsibility of the clearing firm to always seek the best price for your order, regardless of any potential rebate.

How Smart Order Routing Works 2

This revenue model could seem to incentivize retail investors to make trades at a higher frequency, which is risky for most everyday investors. At Public, we’re on a mission to advance our members’ prosperity through tools that enable long-term investing. It is not possible to day-trade on our platform, and so we believe our objectives are in line with the best interests of our members.

Subscription fees

Currently, we don’t have any paid-for premium features, but as we develop the platform we intend to introduce new products for which we might charge a subscription fee.


As a venture-backed company — our investors Accel and Greycroft previously backed Venmo — we are focused on growing our community of everyday investors and providing the best service to them. Meeting these two objectives is foundational to our future success as a business, which is why they take precedence in all the decisions we make, big and small.

As Public grows and evolves, we commit to providing continued transparency to our customers regarding how we make money.

Questions about our business (or anything else)? Send us a note at

The above content is provided is paid for by Public and is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute investment advice or any other kind of professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. Before taking action based on any such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not endorse any third parties referenced within the article. Market and economic views are subject to change without notice and may be untimely when presented here. Do not infer or assume that any securities, sectors or markets described in this article were or will be profitable. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. There is a possibility of loss. Historical or hypothetical performance results are presented for illustrative purposes only.