AltFi’s most-read stories of 2020: Part 2

By Aisling Finn on Wednesday 6 January 2021

FeaturesAlternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

The second part of our most-read articles where we count down the top five. 

AltFi’s most-read stories of 2020: Part 2
Image source: Thought Catalog/Unsplash

In part one of this article, we revisited AltFi’s most-read articles from number ten down to six and in this part, we finally count down to the most-read article of 2020.

In case you missed it, you can read part one of AltFi’s most-read articles of 2020 here.

Without further ado, here are the top five articles from 2020 with the most views.

5. Revolut tightens foreign exchange limits for free accounts, doubles fees for weekend transfers

Revolut tightened its foreign exchange offering for its non-paying users in a bid to reduce costs amid a Covid-19 slowdown and is reducing the amount users can exchange for another currency from £5,000 to £1,000 per month, with fees also doubling for weekend transfers.

In an update to customers, the digital bank wrote: "As you probably know, if you exchange more than our free exchange limit in a month, you pay a fee. This limit is decreasing to £1,000 each month (which, our research shows, most of you won’t hit anyway). Above that limit, our fee will stay the same at just 0.5%, and we’ll let you know if an exchange will be subject to a fee."

Premium and Metal plans which have always had an unlimited exchange will continue to do so.

Revolut said that users would also continue to see interbank exchange rates on weekdays but weekend transfers will become more expensive. 

Read more: Revolut tightens foreign exchange limits for free accounts, doubles fees for weekend transfers

4. Starling Bank’s Bounce Back Loans demand surges prompting backlash

Despite getting its system up and running in about a week, Starling Bank was the recipient of fierce criticism from SMEs.  

Starling’s BBLS garnered 18,000 applications in a week and because of this “record demand”, Starling had to stop accepting new sole trader business accounts.

This decision was met with anger as many sole traders had patiently waited for Starling to open its doors, only for the bank to close them in just under a week. 

Despite the backlash, Starling’s SME customer base grew to 155,000 business accounts, an increase of 55,000 new customers since the beginning of February. 

Anne Boden’s digital bank also raised £40m to bolster its SME banking offering and teamed up with fellow fintech lender Funding Circle, to provide the listed lender with a £300m pot for SME lending. 

Read more: Starling Bank Bounce Back Loans demand surges prompting backlash. 

3. Revolut is giving away Bitcoin for Black Friday

Another Revolut story has made the most-read list, this time for when the digital banking service launched a competition to give away a whole Bitcoin for Black Friday. 

Bitcoin’s price has soared in 2020, reaching prices of well over $19,000 (£14,200), at the time of the competition, Bitcoin was worth around $19,157 (£14,300), with the price currently sitting at $28,200 (£20,700).

The digital banking service also revealed that, following a slight decline at the beginning of the lockdown, cryptocurrency trading became increasingly popular among its customers.

Between 20 April and 4 May, the average amount of cryptocurrency purchased jumped by 57 per cent and the amount bought per trade by 63 per cent.

Read More: Revolut is giving away Bitcoin for Black Friday

2. What’s going on with Tide and Starling’s Bounce Back Loans?

Starling was one of the first fintechs to gain Bounce Back Loan accreditation but as soon as applications opened it began to face backlash.

Similarly, it appeared that almost as soon as Tide’s BBLS applications opened, it faced a flurry of anger from customers who felt left in the dark. 

Both fintechs appeared to be drip-feeding BBLS funds, angering customers who were badly affected by the pandemic and needed cash to stay afloat.  

It was then revealed that the British Business Bank had placed a limit on how much certain lenders could dish out, with the limits only being lifted once the maximum has been reached and a second higher limit is approved. 

Again, both Tide and Starling prioritised existing customers, prompting backlash from SMEs who were not yet on their books. 

Read more: What’s going on with Tide and Starling’s Bounce Back Loans? 

1. Revolut launches new ‘super app’ as it hits 12m customers 

Revolut has not come out of the coronavirus pandemic unscathed—the banking service has slimmed down its employee numbers in Europe, asked employees to take part in a salary swap scheme and co-founders Vlad Yatsenko and Nikolay Storonsky sacrificed their salaries to save cash. 

Despite the turbulence, Revolut has continued to roll out new products and services, including Revolut Junior and most recently introducing silver trading to its European users.  

Amid all of this, the most-read article, by a fair stretch, was about the launch of Revolut’s new ‘super app’

The new app enables users to manage their finances all in one place, promising to “reimagine and redefine” Revolut’s current offering. 

Customers of the e-money service can now access their open banking-linked accounts as well as other budgeting and analytical tools and trade stocks, cryptocurrencies and commodities from just two tabs in the app. 

As the digital challenger rolled out its new app, it was also revealed that it had hit 12m customers globally, including 1 in 4 in Ireland. 

Read more: Revolut launches new ‘super app’ as it hits 12m customers. 

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