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AltFi’s 10 most-read stories of 2021: Part 1

We chart the AltFi articles that were most popular with readers over the last 12 months—including the best Fintechs to work for, Crypto and Revolut’s European expansion.

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2021 marked another mixed year for fintech, with Covid-19 still causing disruption but not enough to derail colossal funding rounds, international expansion and phenomenal sector growth.

Over the coming days, we'll be charting the biggest stories of the year, and to start, we're looking back across our most-read stories.

Here are the most popular stories on AltFi from 2021, from No.10 to No.6.

10. Forget Bitcoin, DeFi is the real fintech boom

Niels Pedersen, a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, kicked off the year in January with an opinion article on AltFi tackling the growing trend of DeFi or decentralized finance.

Beyond the price of Bitcoin, Pedersen explored the drip, drip of blockchain adoption both among fintechs and larger financial institutions.

From HSBC using a blockchain-based app to facilitate a letter of credit for an international petroleum shipment, to the Saldo app that lets Mexicans in the US pay their relatives' utility bills back home.

He concluded that "fintechs can become conduits between conventional finance and the most promising blockchain networks".

Read more:Forget Bitcoin, DeFi is the real fintech boom

9. Which are the best European fintechs to work for in 2021?

In August, AltFi teamed up with Glassdoor to answer a crucial question, which is the best fintech in Europe to work for in 2021?

By scouring through its thousands of employee reviews, Glassdoor concluded that expense management platform Spendesk in Paris ranked highest in Europe, with an average employee rating of 4.9.

Pierre Verstraeten, Spendesk's head of people, told AltFi that: "We believe that a company culture is the sum of all individual behaviors and the processes we establish for the team – so the values have to be part of every single one of these processes and the base for our behavior."

Several other familiar names made it into the Top 15 however, with Mollie (5th), Thought Machine (9th) and Starling Bank (15th) all ranking highly.

We'll have to wait and see how the ranking changes next year…

Read more:Which are the best European fintechs to work for in 2021?

8. Revolut introduces 11 new cryptocurrencies as users flock to crypto trading

Crypto trading was a huge success for Revolut, even back when it launched in 2018, helping to give the banking challenger its first month of profitability.

With crypto back on a high in 2021, Revolut doubled down with many announcements, including a dramatic expansion in the tokens it offered.

In April, it added Cardano, Uniswap, Bancor, Filecoin and seven other tokens to its then 20+ coins it already offered.

Revolut said these tokens were selected as they were the "top movers" which the fintechs UK and EU customers were calling for.

Read more: Revolut introduces 11 new cryptocurrencies as users flock to crypto trading

7. Recovery Loan Scheme: The good, the bad and the ugly

It was all change in March, as the UK government announced the replacement for its emergency Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The new acronym on the block would be RLS, or Recovery Loan Scheme. 

RLS would both dramatically simplify things by being one lending guarantee covering amounts from as small as £1,000 to as large as £10m, but also cause controversies in its own way.

Initially, the concern among businesses was that affordability checks were being introduced, potentially slowing down the deployment of capital.

However, the real challenge in the months that followed would be the painfully slow process even for existing BBLS and CBILS lenders to be accredited to this new scheme.

Read more:Recovery Loan Scheme: The good, the bad and the ugly

6. Revolut banks on banking, launches as a bank in ten EU countries

Another mention for the popular UK fintech, this time as it shifted more of its European accounts under its Lithuanian banking licence.

The move, which impacted accounts in Greece, Croatia and Romania, meant that accounts in an additional 10 countries would have their deposits protected should Revolut fail.

"Launching the bank in ten new European markets will provide a greater level of security and confidence for our customers, and will enable us to launch a host of new products and services in the near future," said Revolut Bank's CEO Virgilijus Mirkės at the time.

One key market still missing from Revolut's bank is obviously the UK, where the fintech continues to work on its banking licence.

Read more:Revolut banks on banking, launches as a bank in ten EU countries

Wondering what the top five most-read stories of 2021 were? Find out here in Part 2.

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Niels Pedersen

Senior Lecturer

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