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.
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.
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".
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."
We'll have to wait and see how the ranking changes next year…
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.
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.
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.
Wondering what the top five most-read stories of 2021 were? Find out here in Part 2.