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Top 10 financial services and fintech stories of 2021

Computer Weekly selects 10 key stories from the financial services IT sector over the past year

The way that fintechs and challenger banks have dominated the tech headlines in recent years makes it all the more surprising that, for the first time, a UK digital challenger bank made a profit.

The nature of tech and fintech startups means they invest heavily up front in tech and customer acquisition, with profits somewhere down the line.

But Starling Bank’s first monthly profit this year was a landmark for UK fintech, and others have announced profits since. Read more about what being profitable means to Starling going forward.

Similarly, the tech companies supporting the finance sector continue to receive the backing of investors. For example, take Thought Machine, a company shaking up how banks do core banking.

The company, led by former Google executives, is bringing techniques used by the internet giant into the world of banking. It has already become a fintech unicorn, with a valuation of over $1bn. Read more about that and other key stories of the year here.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 stories about financial services and fintech of 2021:

1. What next for the now-profitable app-based Starling Bank?

Starling Bank is the first of the new breed of UK digital banks to make a profit, so where next?

2. Regulator concerns about resilience and security could slow cloud adoption in financial services

Report by Association for Financial Markets In Europe highlights the pressure financial services firms face as they seek to balance the need for innovation with regulatory requirements.

3. Mastercard acquisition of Aiia is a further sign of open banking’s big future

Mastercard’s acquisition of Denmark-based open banking fintech Aiia follows rival’s takeover of Sweden’s Tink.

4. Which? online banking investigation reveals ‘worrying gaps’ in security

Consumer rights organisation has ranked the security of UK online current account providers.

5. Thought Machine: Google-inspired banking fintech to unicorn and beyond

UK fintech unicorn Thought Machine is transforming the IT of large traditional banks while working with fledgling digital-only challengers.

6. CIO interview: Nicola Wadham, Financial Ombudsman Service

CIO Nicola Wadham brings Computer Weekly up to speed on the Financial Ombudsman Service’s IT challenges and successes.

7. Bank branches will be a thing of the past in five years, say bankers

Traditional bank branches are likely to disappear from the high street in the next five years, but banking ecosystems will ensure customer service levels are high, say bankers.

8. Deutsche Bank to sell retail banking IT unit to TCS for €1

Deutsche Bank has agreed to sell its retail banking IT operation to one of its main IT suppliers for a token €1.

9. Has Covid-19 made bank branch closures easier to sell?

Big banks continue to close branches and invest more in technology as the Covid-19 pandemic makes a case for digital banking.

10. Are banks overburdened with responsibility for money lost to online scams?

Bank boss calls for cross-industry cooperation to reduce scams that trick people into making instant payments online.

Read more on IT for financial services

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