The most interesting currency news of 2016

By on December 29th, 2016 in Editorial

It’s not all doom and gloom however; 2016 also saw London declared the fintech capital of the world, and consumers being given more choice and access to better rates than ever before thanks to a surge in financial technological innovations.

So lean back, relax, and relive some of the biggest FX, small business and currency news of the past year – before we launch ourselves into the next one.

In May we released our spoof FXgate video, highlighting preferential treatment given to wealthy customers by banks…

… and, later that month, it was revealed that Lloyds bank had been giving preferential treatment to its wealthy customers, not to mention saddling those they deemed ‘less sophisticated’ with hidden fees .

Also that month, Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry encased a load of money in a giant phallus for his Channel 4 series All Man, clearly referencing the testosterone-driven greed causing banks to stiff(!) SMEs on currency exchanges.

Our chairman Rich Ricci wrote a rousing piece in City A.M on the rise of fintech companies and the threat they pose to traditional banking services.

In June, we celebrated this beautiful, pixelated Norwegian currency due for release in 2017…

… by contacting Norway’s national bank to congratulate them with a portrait we’d made of King Harald.

In the run-up to Brexit, our spoof FXgate campaign highlighted the blurred lines between fact and fiction in the referendum debate when a surprising number of people took it seriously.

In August, Nigeria’s football team were late for the Olympics because of FX complications related to buying their plane tickets:

Later that month, it was announced that ramen had overtaken tobacco as the most popular currency in US prisons.

In September, a study by Capital Economics revealed that SMEs were losing £4.1bn to banks in hidden fees – news that was surprising only in terms of its sheer scale and the brazenness with which small businesses were being exploited.

And BBC’s John Humphrys went beserk, attempting to annihilate the new five pound note with his mouth:

Chess grandmaster and renowned economist Ken Rogoff published a book about removing large banknotes from circulation to fight crime.

An intriguing concept object was proposed as a means of making digital payments.

Organised criminals were revealed to be using art as currency in illicit transactions, raising questions about the intrinsic value of culture and instant noodles.

In news that sounds like the plot of a latter day Jackie Chan adventure, an ancient Chinese sculpture was found to be hiding a currency secret in its brain.

People started to discover that the new fiver had some rather strange alternative uses…

The US election resulted in some exciting currency volatility, and some cheeky topical gifs from us:

A survey revealed that over 50% of banking customers were turning to fintech startups for their financial services, underlining the fact that consumers are seeing tech platforms as an ever more viable competitor to large, unwieldy banks.

The possibility arose that Sweden could be the first country to launch a national digital currency.

India’s PM Modi made the shock November announcement that the vast majority of his country’s cash would become unspendable, causing large-scale panic.

Uproar followed the discovery that the new five pound note contained a bit of meaty tallow. Later, the Bank of England announced they would be looking for vegetarian-friendly ways to manufacture the denomination.

We look forward to bringing you the most fascinating and vital currency news of 2017. Happy new year!


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James is freemarket’s Chief Commercial Officer. He has a history of finding new ways to solve age-old financial challenges and was responsible for launching some of the first online money transfer and prepaid card initiatives in Europe.


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  • £1=€1.1272

Typically saving €1,027.79 over bank rates