A look back at the hottest fintech stories of 2021

Here are the stories that shaped the fintech narrative over the past year and that our readers followed more avidly than other headline-makers:

Our most-read story of the year: Twitter leaped ahead in social media’s crypto race (9/28)

Before the metaverse became a household term, Twitter was shaking up how content creators get paid—and fueling the convergence of social media and blockchain technology. The watershed moment? Tipping fellow tweeters with Bitcoin.

Direct indexing prompts Vanguard’s first-ever acquisition (7/15)

The 46-year-old global asset manager had never made an acquisition before—which says a lot about the space it jumped into. The EFT behemoth’s buy cements direct indexing as the next need-to-have offering for asset managers courting high-net-worth investors.

Meme stocks beyond GME: Breaking down Clover’s Reddit-fueled trading blitz (6/11)

This story stuffed in all of 2021’s meme stock buzzwords: SPACs, short squeezes, and diamond hands pumping an insurtech’s public listing to the moon. The fundamentals occasionally do support the hype, but meme stock companies have to weigh the effects on their reputation.

Insurtechs branched out. Look at Urban Jungle. (6/23)

Sometimes, it’s not enough to disrupt just one vertical. That seemed to be what a handful of insurtechs were thinking when they tested the waters with new products and services. But with global housing markets going gangbusters since the pandemic started, Urban Jungle’s home insurance made quite the splash.

Drops in a multibillion-dollar bucket: Venture fund FinTLV raises $120M (2/2)

We know, $120 million is a lot of money. But back in February, we had no idea just how much money would change hands in the fintech world (hint: It was roughly $120 billion). While some raises later this year made FinTLV’s mega-round look like chump change, its move showed how the pandemic affected insurance.

The slow-burn disruptor: Decentralized finance (11/29)

We learned quite a few new terms this year (here’s looking at you, non-fungible token), but few have quite the disruptive potential as decentralized finance (DeFi). It popped up frequently enough that by November, we were ready to tell you everything you need to know about it.

Incumbents try their luck with robo-advisors (2/18)

The pandemic changed the investing game. It’s unclear whether the industry will be able to sustain the influx of investors and money, but the disruption pushed incumbents to keep up with the times, which Goldman’s Marcus did with its robo-advisory services.

It’s time to talk about greenwashing (12/2)

Few stories in 2021 were big enough to unseat the pandemic as the biggest global concern—but wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes brought the environmental crisis to top of mind throughout the year. Companies are trying to clean up their acts, and clear standards can help them get it done.