2021 in quotes: Part 2

By John Reynolds on Friday 14 January 2022

Alternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

A look back at fintech in 2021 and some of the most eye-catching quotes in the second half of the year from the stories we published.

2021 in quotes: Part 2
Image source: Olya Kobruseva/Pexels.

There was little sign of an easing off of big fintech stories in the second half of 2021, with some headline-grabbing quotes to accompany the stories.

Here are some of the most striking quotes from some big stories including a long-awaited IPO, a hyped startup, quashed rumours, and high profile appointments.

“The best thing I ever did was to launch my own business and for it to be a fintech.”

Startups are the lifeblood of fintech and the opportunity to blaze a trail with a new business is a pull to young fintech entrepreneurs and some of those lifers at established banks.

Like Jayne-Anne Gadhia, who after a 35-year-long career in big finance, including stints at Aviva and Virgin Money, set up Snoop, the financial management app.

The quote from Gadhia appears to sum up the entrepreneurial spirit of fintech- and would no doubt be inspirational to many setting out on a career in fintech.

Read more: “Never give up”: Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia discusses launching a startup in lockdown 

“When you start to see government departments endorsing and accepting open banking payments as the primary means of paying tax, for example, you start to see that hockey stick growth.”

The debate continued to swell around the virtues of open banking last year. While its proponents point to the likes of government bodies adopting open banking, critics said its adoption rate was simply too slow.

Predictably, an executive from the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), the body behind the initiative, gave an upbeat assessment.

At the AltFi Festival of Finance 2021, David Beardmore, ecosystem development director at the OBIE  added that open banking was not going away.

He said: “Not everything is complete but there’s enough that’s there to warrant real excitement. We’re pleased with the levels of growth but the job is not done. Open banking isn’t going away, so get used to it.”

Read more: “We’re just at the start of the hockey stick”: David Beardmore on the possibilities of open banking

“We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible, and have much further to go to truly democratize finance for all.”

Robinhood’s public listing was one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the fintech calendar last year: some wanted to know how the fintech poster boy’s shares would perform, others simply in awe of what a startup could achieve in six years.

Shares may have tumbled in early trading, but Robinhood continued to attract headlines, not least because of the ambition and can-do attitude of its founders.

Read more: Robinhood’s $32bn IPO stumbles, as shares fall up to 10% on debut

FCA says fintech sandbox is now “always open”.

The FCA sandbox has been a crucial tool for many a fintech, allowing them to test out products. 

So the news that the regulator was switching the scheme to “always open” - so firms can test products at whatever stage is right for them- would have been welcomed by the entire fintech community.

The switch followed a recommendation by the government-driven Kalifa Review.

Read more: No more cohorts: FCA says fintech sandbox is now ‘always open’

“We have just crossed one million users pre-launch & launch date.”

One of the most intriguing stories of last year centred around the internet-hyped (and controversial) startup Lanistar, which took up a chunk of fintech reporters’ time.

Never short of bigging itself up, the startup claimed that it had crossed one million users ahead of launch, adding that “we are one of the fastest-growing fintech startups in the world”.

Amid the hype and bluster, Lanistar was rocked by claims of sexual harassment, bullying, sexism and unpaid waged.

Read more: Embattled fintech Lanistar claims to have hit one million pre-registered customers

“Simply a button which you switch on and then your card becomes a buy now pay later product.”

Neobanks looking to expand their services into new sectors seemed to heat up as a theme last year.

One example of this was Revolut moving into the BNPL space, mirroring a move by some of its rivals. 

In the above quote in the Evening Standard, Revolut founder Nik Storonsky explained the simplicity to the Revolut customer of paying by buy now, pay later.

Read more: Revolut set to take on Klarna with its own BNPL offering

“We will spend hundreds of millions before we get to break even and get to a place where this is a sustainable business, and we’re not in a rush.”

The power players in the world of financial services are masters at obfuscation and for journalists getting concrete numbers out of them can be a thankless task.

So it was a welcome admission from Sanoke Viswanathan, head of JP Morgan’s newly formed ‘international consumer’ division, about the size of the task in hand of launching its Chase banking app in the UK.

“This is a very big strategic commitment from the firm’s standpoint,” Viswanathan added to the Financial Times.

Read more: JP Morgan finally puts launch date on digital bank Chase

“There is no scope for complacency” following a bullying scandal.

Fintechs, like other high-pressure environments, can sometimes not be for the faint-hearted and leaders will be aware that such environments can lead to misbehaviour at work.

The OBIE was quick (and right) to admit its previous failings and shepherd in a new boom in the shape of Charlotte Crosswell to steady the ship.

Crosswell added there would be “no repetition of any failings and inadequacies, historical or otherwise”.

Read more: New open banking trustee declares “no scope for complacency” in the OBIE’s future after bullying scandal

“My husband has been saying for years, ‘Gosh, don’t you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?’”

A surprise -but welcome- addition to the world of fintech last year was the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, more commonly known as Prince Harry and Meghan, who signed up to help scale the fintech startup asset manager Ethic.

Talking to the New York Times, Meghan added: “From the world I come from, you don’t talk about investing, right?”

“You don’t have the luxury to invest. That sounds so fancy,” she said.

Read more: Harry and Meghan land new jobs in fintech

“Starling is not for sale and I very much want to lead it to flotation and beyond.”

There debate about whether Starling was up for sale, amid its fast growth in the banking sector, continued last year.

Boss Anne Boden may have dismissed talk of a sale but she did reveal that it was JP Morgan and Lloyds Bank, and not Monzo, who Starling saw as its competitors these days.

She also said it was “full steam ahead towards an IPO”.

Read more: “Starling is not for sale” says Anne Boden in new chapter of her book​​​​​​​

“Too many people are taking out these loans without realising the impact it could have on their finances."

Disruptors will always take a whole load of flak from the establishment.

A case in point last year was Barclays hitting out at the buy now, pay later industry.

Antony Stephen, CEO of Barclays Partner Finance, added” “To protect consumers against taking on more debt than they can comfortably afford to repay, and to ensure minimum standards exist across the sector, we believe regulation should ensure all BNPL providers are required to undertake appropriate affordability assessments, consistent with those in place for other regulated consumer credit products.”

Read more: Barclays criticises ‘buy now, pay later’ following survey​​​​​​​

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