AltFi's 10 most read stories of 2019: Part 1

By John Reynolds on Monday 30 December 2019

Alternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

We chart the articles that were most popular with readers over the last 12 months—including tie-ups, ejections, crackdowns and award winners.

AltFi's 10 most read stories of 2019: Part 1
Image source: Pixabay.

2019 marked another action-packed year for disruptive finance, with fintechs occupying an increasing number of column inches on the back of huge funding rounds, new tie-ups and big advertising campaigns as they made fresh inroads shaking up the banking landscape. 

But 2019 wasn’t all good news for alternative finance with peer-to-peer lending enduring a troublesome 12 months. The gaze of the City regulator fell squarely on the sector, which warned of a crackdown on misbehaving platforms, following the high-profile failures of platforms like Collateral and Lendy.

Here are the most popular stories on AltFi, from number 10 to number 6.

10. Funding Circle and Metro Bank ejected from FTSE 250

September spelt a double dose of bad news for alternative finance when Britain’s biggest peer-to-peer lender and one of the country's first challenger banks were ejected from the FTSE 250 index.

Funding Circle and Metro Bank were kicked out of the FTSE 250 list of the 101st to the 350th largest companies in Britain.

The peer-to-peer business lender, headed up CEO and co-founder Samir Desai, has endured a turbulent year, and its shares, which listed for 440p in October 2018 are now valued at just over 92p. 

Unflattering six-month financials and controversy over withdrawal issues forced Funding Circle onto the back foot in 2019.  But in October, the peer-to-peer lender reported some better news after its loans under management leapt 31 per cent to £3.7bn in the third quarter.

Metro Bank, meanwhile, has seen its shares tumble over 90 per cent since it revealed a £900m accounting blunder in January 2019. Its exit from the FTSE 250 wasn’t the end to it woes, as Chairman and founder Vernon Hill and CEO Craig Donaldson stepped away from the business.

Read more: Funding Circle and Metro Bank ejected from FTSE 250

9. Starling, PrimaryBid, Mintos and Moneybox among winners of The AltFi Awards 2019

Now a looked forward to staple in the disruptive finance calendar, the winners of the AlfFi Awards, recognising outstanding achievement, were announced at AlfFi’s Berlin Summit this year.

Two expert panels of industry judges decided on the winners across the world of alternative finance and fintech respectively.

Mintos, Growth Street, Creditshelf, PrimaryBid, Landbay and Fintex Capital all scooped Alternative Finance gongs while Monzo, Moneybox, Starling Bank, Passion Capital and Fox Williams LLP won awards in the Fintech Of The Year category.

The hotly-contested People’s Choice Award garnered over 5,500 votes and was won by Mintos, the fourth time Mintos had won, which the judges said had shown an “incredible ability to engage its audience”.  The win for Mintos complemented its accolade for being voted Alternative Finance Platform Of The Year.

Other winners included Revolut, winning the Editor’s Choice Award and Freetrade, which won The One To Watch title.

Meanwhile, the Special Industry Contribution gong was received by Imran Gulamhuseinwala, the former head of fintech at EY and the current Implementation Trustee of Open Banking Limited, the non-profit responsible for Open Banking- a pivotal role as the debate rages whether Open Banking will break big banks’ stranglehold on the banking market.

Read more: Starling, PrimaryBid, Mintos and Moneybox among winners of The AltFi Awards 2019

8. Goldman Sachs’ big fintech gamble is about to heat as it takes on N26, Revolut and Monzo

Experts say Goldman Sachs has been playing a canny game in fintech-marrying together being an active investor in fintech startups as well as developing its own flanker brands such as its savings and lending platform Marcus, as it charts a path to become a household financial consumer name.

During its Q2 earnings, Goldman revealed it had spent $1.3bn (£990m) on bringing its in-house fintech platforms including Marcus to life.

The significant outlay coupled with multi-million investments in the likes of German savings and investment marketplace Raisin and UK lending platform Lendable underscored the investment bank’s commitment to fintech.

According to a recent report in The Times, Goldman is soon to launch a cash Isa and joint savings account in the UK under its Marcus brand. 

Marcus currently has more than £12bn in deposits and there have been reports that Goldman is slowing growth in Marcus as so-called ring-fencing rules drawn up after the financial crisis forced banks with more than £25bn in customer deposits to separate retail banking activities from riskier investments operations.

Experts believe by ploughing this dual furrow of fintech investor and fintech operator, Goldman appears to recognise that there may be a bigger prize at stake rather than just backing the winning startups of tomorrow.

Read more: Goldman Sachs big fintech gamble is about to heat up for summer as it takes on N26, Revolut and Monzo

7. Yolt integrates with Revolut

Yolt, the app that allows its users to see all their bank accounts and transactions in one place, announced an integration with digital bank Revolut in 2019, marking a significant tie-up by two industry heavyweights.

The deal means that Revolut customers will be able to use the Yolt app to analyse all their transactions, including those made outside of the UK, along with setting budgets, monitor spending and manager their investments.

Launched in 2017, Yolt, which now has over one million users, was an early mover in Open Banking and was the first third-party provider to connect with all of the UK’s nine largest banks.

2019 was the year Yolt launched Yolt Technology Services, opening its API for other firms and fintechs.  As of November 2019, Yolt was responsible for roughly 50 per cent of all API traffics in the UK.

The deal between the pair means that Revolut is the 30th bank to connect via the UK'S Open Banking initiative to its app.

Leon Muis, Chief Business Officer of Yolt Technology Services said: “We strongly believe that APIs are the connection of the future."

Read more: Yolt integrates with Revolut

6. Monzo and OakNorth join forces to offer savings accounts in challenger bank tie-up

In March 2019, two of the UK’s most valuable challenger banks, Monzo and OakNorth teamed up.

The companies said the deal would open up the savings marketplace “for the millions of savers who could benefit from better rates”.

The deal saw Monzo customers gain access to high-interest savings accounts for the first time, with rates up to 1.55 per cent available within minutes in the Monzo app. In total, the deal saw Monzo launch seven types of savings pots.

Prior to the deal, Monzo users were able to set money aside in a pot as a method of savings, however the feature did not offer interest rates.

Both banks are among the UK’s most well-funded valuable and talked-about fintechs.

Oaknorth chief operating officer Amir Nooriala, who is leaving the business, said: “Through this partnership with Monzo, we’re opening up the marketplace for the millions of savers who could benefit from better rates, whilst also giving them the added benefits of ease, convenience and usability that come with managing money in one place.”

Co-founder and chief executive of Monzo Tom Blomfield said: “ISAs and higher interest rates on savings are something our customers have been asking for.”

Read more: Monzo and OakNorth join forces to offer savings accounts in challenger bank tie-up

Come back tomorrow as we will reveal the 5 most popular stories on AltFi for 2019.

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