AltFi’s most-read stories of 2020: Part 1

By Aisling Finn on Monday 4 January 2021

FeaturesAlternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

The first part of our most-read stories of the past year. 

AltFi’s most-read stories of 2020: Part 1
Image source: Revolut

With the fear of sounding like a broken record, 2020 has been a rollercoaster year, but (thankfully) we are now safely in 2021 so let’s hope it runs more smoothly than the last 12 months! 

Despite most of us probably wanting to forget the last year, we decided to take a look back at our ten most-read stories of 2020.

10. Robinhood pushes back UK launch

In late 2019, Robinhood revealed its intention to launch in the UK, opening a waitlist to thousands of eager UK customer

Just a few months later, as lockdowns started to come into effect across the world, Robinhood found itself in hot water after it suffered an outage on a day where the US stock market surged $1.1tr. 

As a result of the outage, some customers reportedly lost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and three class-action lawsuits in California, Illinois and Florida were taken out against the trading platform. 

While it still managed to pick thousands of new customers in the US, investors in the UK were left hanging. Its planned launch was meant to happen in Q1 of 2020, but for reasons reportedly not related either Covid-19 or its various outages, the timings changed and in the end its UK launch planned were kicked into the long grass.

At the beginning of May, Robinhood closed a $280m Series F funding round though, giving the company a valuation of $8.3bn. 

Read more: Exclusive: Robinhood pushes back UK launch 

9. Lanistar: The fintech that found itself in hot water with the FCA is "part-owned by 3,000 of the world’s most influential people”

One of the most gripping stories of 2020 was the rise and then subsequent fall from grace of fledgeling fintech Lanistar.

The digital banking fintech, which only launched in the UK in March 2020, made waves after CEO and founder Gurhan Kiziloz confidently proclaimed that his fledgeling businesses would “become the next £1bn fintech company.” 

After splashing the cash on a massive social media campaign, which the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) flagged Lanistar as a potentially fraudulent company operating without the proper licences or regulations.  Although, the FCA backtracked and removed its warning against the firm just a few days later.

Following the massive social media campaign, which included celebrities like Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez (39m followers), Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner Georgina Rodríguez (21.9m followers) and Argentinian footballer Paulo Dybala (40.3m followers), it was discovered that Lanistar was claiming to be “part-owned by 3,000 of the world’s most influential people.”

The fintech declined to comment at the time of the article being written and ahs since removed the statement from its app.

Read more:  Lanistar: The fintech that found itself in hot water with the FCA is "part-owned by 3,000 of the world’s most influential people”

8. Monzo vs Revolut: The battle for premium subscribers

The road to subscription services has not been a smooth one for Monzo, however, the digital bank previously shuttered its ill-fated original attempt at Monzo Plus just five months after launching the product in September 2019.

Revolut launched its first subscription service all the way back in March 2017 and then subsequently launched Revolut Metal in August 2018. Revolut’s latest numbers encouragingly show that it is starting to help its bottom line

So what will draw customers to Monzo’s most expensive subscription? And, will it draw customers away from Revolut? Which plan is better?

Read more: Monzo vs Revolut: The battle for premium subscribers

7.  Will Bounce Back Loans come back to bite? 

Stories about Bounce Back Loans have been some of the more popular stories over the past year.

This next entry on the list was technically published in the AltFi Weekly Newsletter but, as a result of interest in the Bounce Back Loan scheme, a version was also published on AltFi.com. 

A lot of questions began being raised surrounding the 100-per-cent-backed scheme as fintechs saw huge levels of demand (see No. 2 & No. 3 in our list). 

Bankers began to predict that we could see defaults of about 20 per cent once collections begin next year, with nearly half (43 per cent) of borrowers admitted to the Business Banking Resolution Service that they aren’t planning to pay their loans back. 

As a result, we could see a deadlock between borrowers and lenders as borrowers will argue that they were inappropriately lent to, while the lenders will rightly respond that they were instructed by the Treasury to not check affordability. 

Read more: Will Bounce Back Loans come back to bite? 

6. Eight executives exit Revolut during lockdown 

Revolut saw a string of executives leave the banking service since the middle of March this year.  

The eight departures included chief financial officer David Maclean, who departed the e-money service after less than six months at the company, head of wealth and trading André Mohamed, who co-founded Freetrade, deputy chief financial officer, Stefan Wille and Revolut’s interim head of finance Anna Borzenko. 

According to a spokesperson, the departures were not linked to Covid-19.  

Despite the management reshuffle, Revolut is also on the hunt for a UK Chairperson to help it obtain a UK banking licence, something the bank has operated in the UK for five years without one. 

Read more: Eight executives exit Revolut during lockdown. 

Keep your eyes peeled for part two where we reveal the top five most-read stories of 2020!

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