AltFi’s 10 most-read stories of 2021: Part 2

By Oliver Smith on Thursday 23 December 2021

Alternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

We chart the top 5 AltFi articles that were most popular with readers over the last 12 months—including ‘vertical’ bank cards, Lanistar’s woes, and even more Revolut.

AltFi’s 10 most-read stories of 2021: Part 2
Image source: Gurhan Kiziloz/Lanistar.

In Part 1 of this article, we revisited AltFi’s most-read stories from No.10 down to No.6 and in this part, we finally count down to the most-read article of 2021.

In case you missed it, you can read part one of AltFi’s 10 most-read stories of 2021 here.

Without further ado, here are the most popular stories on AltFi from 2021, from No.5 to No.1

5. HSBC joining the bank card accessibility push with new ‘vertical’ designs

We saw a number of banks pushing ahead with their bank card designs in 2021, including Nationwide and HSBC.

Both banks moved to make their cards more accessible to customers with dementia, sight loss, learning difficulties and dyslexia.

Nationwide added a new ‘dot and notch’ system to its cards which helps distinguish between debit and credit cards, and indicates which way around a card should be inserted into card machines and ATMs.

HSBC meanwhile launched a more dramatic ‘vertical’ card design, following in the footsteps of Starling Bank, which also adopted ‘dot and notch’ and is made from 85 per cent recycled plastic.

A good year for great bank cards.

Read more: HSBC joining the bank card accessibility push with new ‘vertical’ designs

4. Lanistar secures comeback with Modulr deal

Just when you thought the Lanistar saga might be over, in May the FCA approved the troubled fintech to provide payment services.

The approval was granted as Lanistar has partnered to become an EMD (Electronic Money Directive) agent of Modulr Finance, the payments-as-a-service fintech.

As a reminder, in 2020 Lanistar first ended up in the spotlight after CEO Gurhan Kiziloz declared his business would be the next UK fintech unicorn.

Kiziloz then announced a £15m funding round, but then revealed that lead investor Milaya Capital wouldn’t be providing the funds, and found himself in hot water after the FCA called Lanistar a scam… before backtracking and removing its warning.

Lanistar’s 2021 comeback wasn’t the only time the fintech made the headlines this year, as unpaid ex-staff also took the company to an employment tribunal to recover their missing salaries, and most recently the fintech claims to have launched in Brazil.

Its plans for the UK market are ongoing, and most recently it said a ‘soft launch’ is planned for January 2022.

Read more: Lanistar secures comeback with Modulr deal

3. Monzo is “struggling” to avoid the same fate as Xinja, analyst warns

“Will Monzo make it?” was a reasonable question to ask throughout 2020, as the challenger bank was hit by a tumbling valuation, falling revenues and the departure of founder Tom Blomfield.

In January 2021 banking analyst Katherine Long looked Down Under to the plight of Australian neobank Xinja, itself squeezed by offering high-interest rate accounts in a low-interest-rate environment.

“Xinja did not prioritize early on, trying to create a sustainable future with revenue-generating products, and it was too late when it finally dawned that it needed personal loans and wealth services instead,” she wrote.

“For Monzo, the problems are only slightly different – though not much better... creating a leading current account product that generates practically no revenue, either from merchant or marketplace fees.”

The story has somewhat improved for Monzo, with the arrival of new CEO TS Anil focusing the business on revenue through its Plus and Premium subscriptions, as well as increasing its lending through its Flex buy now, pay later product.

Earlier this month Monzo raised $475m in funding and increased its valuation to $4.5bn.

Read more: Monzo is “struggling” to avoid the same fate as Xinja, analyst warns

2. Ripple effect: Revolut issues warning about XRP while still letting users trade it amid SEC lawsuit

Revolut found itself at a controversial crossroads in January as Ripple’s cryptocurrency XRP was delisted by several prominent crypto exchanges.

The fintech warned customers who had invested in XRP that “If XRP was to be delisted by all of our partner exchanges, it’s likely that we would have to delist XRP as well.”

However, XRP was not delisted from Revolut’s partner exchanges and, in fact, went on to have a phenomenal 2021.

In January the token traded at around $0.32, while today it hovers around $0.95 and is closing in on the $1 mark.

While some concerned customers may have taken the warning around XRP to cash out, those who held on would have seen a nearly 200% increase on their investment.

Read more: Ripple effect: Revolut issues warning about XRP while still letting users trade it amid SEC lawsuit

1. Revolut announces Bitcoin withdrawals in hastily deleted blog post

Yes, another Revolut crypto story!

In April the fintech accidentally published a blog post announcing one of its most-requested crypto features, the ability to withdraw Bitcoin to other wallets.

Exclusively reported by AltFi, the news was soon confirmed by Revolut, and since then has launched in beta for certain customers to transfer £1,000/month or £500/day worth of Bitcoin to other wallets.

At the time Revolut said the feature would be expanded to include other cryptocurrencies on its platform, however as of yet that still hasn’t happened and the feature remains in beta.

Read more: Breaking: Revolut announces Bitcoin withdrawals in hastily deleted blog post

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