Slideshow Best of BankThink 2015: Readers' Choice

  • January 04 2016, 8:00am EST

The 10 most popular BankThink posts of 2015, based on audience page views.

10. <a href="" target="_blank">Lawmakers' Inaction Could Put Homeowners in Double Jeopardy</a>

Congress did ultimately extend a provision in December excluding mortgage debt forgiveness from taxable income, but Lou Tisler of the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland wrote in June — when the measure's fate after 2015 was still uncertain — that failure to pass the tax extender bill would unfairly harm homeowners who had lost homes or faced other economic catastrophe as a result of the housing bust.

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9. <a href="" target="_blank">Five Big Myths About Marketplace Lending</a>

Common untruths about marketplace lending, Lending Club founder Renaud Laplanche wrote in January, are that marketplace lenders compete rather than collaborate with banks, marketplace loans are unregulated, the underwriting for marketplace loans is unproven and marketplace lenders are set up to hit bottom in a down cycle.

8. <a href="" target="_blank">When Goldman Sachs Began Flirting with Bitcoin</a>

New York Times' reporter Nathaniel Hopper's detailed rundown of a private 2014 conference on bitcoin held for some of Goldman Sachs' biggest hedge-fund clients offered a clear indication of big banks' burgeoning interest in the virtual currency market. The submission, which was published in May and was adapted from Popper's book "Digital Gold," concluded by noting Goldman's investment a year after the conference in Circle Internet Financial.

7. <a href="" target="_blank">Marketplace Lenders Are a Systemic Risk</a>

Readers were drawn to both sides of the debate about the impact of marketplace lending. In this contribution, Todd Baker of Broadmoor Consulting LLC wrote that marketplace lenders have features similar to other nonbank finance companies, which suffered in the crisis. "When funding in the capital markets is unavailable or prohibitively expensive, a finance company quickly hits the wall," he wrote.

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6. <a href="" target="_blank">The Great Rebundling of Financial Services</a>

Bradley Leimer of Santander Bank argued that even though banks continue to unbundle, it is still possible for them once again to be the go-to institution for all of a consumer's financial service needs. "What would a rebundled bank look like from a consumer's viewpoint?" he said. "Such a bank would give what I will call, for lack of a better term, a dashboard view of all of their services that are financial or tangentially financial."

5. <a href="" target="_blank">Why the Bitcoin Blockchain Beats Out Competitors</a>

Chris DeRose of the Counterparty Foundation discussed the efforts of various firms to create new blockchains to rival the one initially set up for bitcoin and argued that none of the new alternatives can match the original. "While there may be room for alternative blockchains in our future, the likelihood of any competitors achieving much traction outside a small niche seems increasingly unlikely," he wrote.

4. <a href="" target="_blank">Get Ready for the Rise of the Blockchain</a>

The capabilities of blockchains to remove transactional costs "will likely force financiers to have a come-to-Jesus moment," DeRose wrote. "In the same way that Napster and peer-to-peer file sharing changed the face of the recording industry, blockchain technology will force financiers to reconsider their traditional roles."

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3. <a href="" target="_blank">Banks' Five Big Tech Priorities for 2015</a>

Bank of America's Cathy Bessant ran down several key issues related to financial technology innovation. They included the growing importance of banks' technology teams in improving customer experience, the need to align technology with business goals and how banks should focus only on the types of data that will have an impact. "I vote we all stop using" the term "big data," she wrote, "which makes mysterious an idea that is conceptually simple, if difficult to execute."

2. <a href="" target="_blank">The Note Is All a Lender Needs to Foreclose</a>

Among the top-read BankThink posts in all of 2015 was a contribution from way back in 2012. David Dunn and Allison J. Schoenthal, of Hogan Lovells, said in court battles from the crisis over what entity had the authority to foreclose on a home, the answer is typically in who holds the original note on a loan. "Lenders would be well-served to check their files and confirm that they have possession of the original note, either endorsed in blank or endorsed specifically to them, before commencing their next foreclosure action."

1. <a href="" target="_blank">The Cryptocurrency that Dare Not Speak Its Name</a>

The most-read BankThink of the year, by American Banker Editor in Chief Marc Hochstein, made light of a Federal Reserve white paper dealing with faster payments systems that, while discussing cryptocurrencies, did not mention bitcoin by name. Instead, it described cryptocurrencies as "Digital Value Transfer Vehicles." The paper described an example of one such vehicle, but did not name it. Hochstein wrote: "Of the hundreds of cryptocurrencies that have sprouted up in the last few years, we're pretty sure the Fed is not referring to HoboNickels or PhilosopherStone."