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2020 in quotes: Part 1

A look back at the world of fintech in 2020 and the most memorable quotes from the year.

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The past twelve months have been a rollercoaster year; full of lows but also a few highs too. 

With 2020 having been so volatile, the team here at AltFi thought what better way to see off 2020 by looking back over the last 12 months and rounding up the most memorable quotes from the past year. 

“N26 will in due course no longer be able to operate in the UK.”

One of the first big eye-catching fintech stories of the year came very early on in 2020 when German challenger bank N26 decided to leave the UK market, citing Brexit as the main reason. 

The statement from the digital bank read: "With the UK having left the EU at the end of January, we will in due course no longer be able to operate in the UK with our European banking licence.” 

“As such, we can no longer open new N26 accounts and will be closing existing accounts on 15 April 2020.”

As a result of N26’s exit, some of the challenger banks experienced an uptick in new customers and deposits as people fled to homegrown digital banks, like Monzo and Monese.

Read more: N26 is leaving the UK: is it really about Brexit?

“Use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission [of Covid-19]”

With lockdown in full swing, April saw the effects of the pandemic continuing to take hold, no less the closure of businesses and the declining cash usage, largely thanks to a report published by the World Health Organisation that claimed Covid-19 could live on banknotes for several days.

A WHO spokesperson told The Telegraph: “We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses, we would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face.”

“When possible it would also be advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.”

Read more: World Health Organisation urges people to use contactless to stop the spread of coronavirus

“The days of the branch are numbered.”

As the impact of this statement on the wider adoption of cashless checkouts and other fintech innovations became clear, it was at the forefront of most interviews.

Founder and CEO of Starling Bank Anne Boden told AltFi: “I think this current crisis will speed up certain changes in social trends that are happening and before you know it, I think paper money will largely disappear in the next couple of years, as people are not taking that cash out of the ATM.”

“I don’t think there’s any going back now to branches. I think that people don’t want that face-to-face contact, people have got used to having contact on a browser on your phone.”

Read more: “The days of the branch are numbered”: Starling’s Anne Boden on how coronavirus could change the face of banking

“I'm not going to do another bloody bank!”

One of the more memorable quotes from May (and also the year) came from none other than veteran finance boss Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia.

After launching her new fintech, money management app Snoop, just three weeks prior, Gadhia told AltFi,with total conviction: 

The bold statement comes after Gadhia helped to build Virgin Money from scratch, before the bank was acquired by Clydesdale Bank in January 2019, and the finance veteran decided to try her hand at fintech—a move seemingly going incredibly well so far. 

Read more: Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia: “I'm not going to do another bloody bank!”

“Trust is broken, and it’s not any fintech’s fault, but it is fintech’s fault.”

Another one of the biggest fintech scandals of the year came in June when German fintech Wirecard filed for insolvency after a massive €1.9bn blackhole on its balance sheet was unearthed by KPMG during the special audit of the firm.

The payment processer’s UK activities were then frozen by the FCA leaving many fintechs in the dark, including Curve, ANNA Money, Glint and Pockit. 

Draper Esprit’sVinoth Jayakumar summed up the situation perfectly: “I think there will be casualties because the biggest factor in fintech is trust.”

“Trust is broken, and it’s not any fintech’s fault, but it is fintech’s fault.”

Read more: Wirecard: Picking up the pieces

“No one can label you a failure when what you are trying to do is audacious.”

Another entry for Anne Boden on this list, but when you’ve been as prolific a fintech leader throughout 2020, it’s hard to ignore.

At the beginning of November, Boden published her unexpected second book Banking on It and rocked the world of fintech, giving us mere mortals a glimpse into the Monzo/Starling rivalry for the first time.

On Blomfield’s reason for resigning, Boden wrote: “He was low on detail on the reasons why, other than the fact he couldn’t work with me with my ‘reckless’ behaviour.”  

After Blomfield’s dramatic exit from the team, Boden recalls a meeting with Monzo co-founder-to-be Jason Bates a week earlier where he hinted that there could be a potential coup afoot.  

“There has been talk... that Tom was working on a plan to get rid of you and then me too,” Bates allegedly told Boden.  

Read more: Banking On It review: “No one can label you a failure when what you are trying to do is audacious”

“There are still pension providers insisting that people break lockdown and go to the Post Office.”

And finally, we’ve reached December in our roundup of the best quotes of the year. 

For the final quote in this end-of-year-listicle, we turn to AltFi’s Digital Wealth State of the Market report and an interview with PensionBee’s founder Romi Savova.

At the end of November, it was announced that PensionBee had begun looking into the steps it would need to take to go public and in an interview, Savova admitted that inertia was the biggest problem for pensions and that many are still paper-based.

Savova told AltFi: “There are still pension providers insisting that people break lockdown and go to the Post Office, in order to be able to perform simple financial transactions.”

Read more: Taking PensionBee Public: An interview with Romi Savova

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