As the economic effects of the pandemic continue to be felt, businesses understandably need to know that they will be paid for the goods and services that they supply. Specialising in trade credit insurance and debt collections, Atradius provides its clients with a sense of reassurance and stability, even in the most testing of circumstances. With insolvencies climbing and set to rise further in 2021, Atradius’ carefully designed credit insurance protects businesses against the risk of their customers going under. This safety net has been vital, and Atradius has shown itself to be a stable presence when it matters the most.
Financial ServicesStarling Bank United Kingdom
It was a year to remember for digital challenger bank Starling. In November, the app-based bank made history by becoming the UK’s first digital bank to report a profit – a particularly impressive achievement given that its rival challenger banks have been hit hard by the pandemic. As well as being named Best British Bank for the third consecutive year at the British Bank Awards, Starling also saw its revenues leap by 370 percent, and has doubled its number of business accounts, taking it to over 1.5 million in total. After achieving profitability, the company is now eyeing up an IPO, with aims to go public as early as 2022.
Latin American pharmaceutical giant Megalabs strengthened and expanded its impressive portfolio of products and therapeutic solutions during 2020. In July, the company announced that it would be partnering with US-based CBD company Mederra, and would be bringing its range of CBD products to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, marking an exciting new chapter for Megalabs and entry into a new, fast-developing field. The firm has long been committed to innovation, and the partnership only serves to strengthen the company’s expansive range of products.
LegalAfschrift Law Firm Belgium
The events of last year have shown that it has never been more important to have a good grasp on your finances. Headquartered in Belgium, and with offices in Madrid, Geneva, Luxembourg, Tel Aviv, and Hong Kong, Afschrift Law Firm continues to offer a dependable service, guiding its customers through these turbulent times. Its experts are widely versed in every aspect of taxation law, and are able to provide specialised local tax knowledge, as well as up-to-date information on international regulations. In this uncertain climate, the firm’s reliable service has once more proved invaluable to its customers.
TechnologySatya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft US
With the pandemic prompting a sudden pivot to remote working, computing giant Microsoft has seen its revenues surge. Current CEO Satya Nadella has spearheaded the company’s move towards cloud computing – a strategy that certainly paid off in 2020. Businesses across the globe have started to rely on Microsoft’s cloud computing software for effective home working, as well as utilising the company’s popular video conferencing platform, Teams, for meetings held remotely. At the end of April, Microsoft Teams surpassed 75 million daily active users, and this number just kept multiplying as the pandemic marched on.
Perhaps one of the most positive takeaways from 2020 is the way in which we have all begun to think a little bit more about our health and wellbeing. Aetna is one of the world’s largest and most prominent providers of health insurance, providing comprehensive, tailored health plans to more than 800,000 members across the globe. Last year, Aetna has delivered extra COVID-19 specific support, ensuring that its members have had seamless access to healthcare throughout the pandemic, along with country-specific guidance on social distancing, working from home and ways to stay calm during stress.
When looking back at 2020, we have to mention one of the companies leading the fight against COVID-19. In early November, Pfizer and BioNTech became the first developers to announce an effective vaccine, offering the world some light at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel. Tested on 43,500 people across six different countries, after two doses of the treatment, the vaccine can prevent more than 90 percent of people from catching the virus. As countries around the world race to get their hands on the vaccine, Pfizer will undoubtedly play a key role in paving the way out of the pandemic.
ManufacturingMary Barra, CEO of General MotorsUS
A trailblazer in her industry, Mary Barra made history when she became the first female CEO of a major automaker in January 2014. Under her stewardship, GM has invested billions into both electric vehicles and self-driving cars, and the company is now well on its way to an all-electric future. Indeed, by 2025 GM has committed itself to investing over $27bn in development, and bringing 30 new electric vehicles to market. “Climate change is real, and we want to be part of the solution by putting everyone in an electric vehicle,” Barra has said. If GM’s investments are anything to go by, the company is already racing towards that goal.
The most innovative, forward-thinking companies are always evolving with the times, and China’s Ping An is no exception. While it has built a multi-billion-dollar empire around traditional insurance products, the company has been steadily pivoting towards technology, using cutting-edge digital solutions to expand its offerings. Its commitment to innovation is clear – each year, Ping An invests one percent of its revenues into R&D, focusing specifically on new technologies such as AI, blockchain and cloud computing. Ping An will soon be increasing its investment by a further 20 percent into technology.
There’s perhaps no company so synonymous with staying at home – and when that was the order given by governments the world over, streaming giant Netflix was there to keep quarantined households entertained. The platform enjoyed its biggest growth spurt in history last year, adding 15.77 million new subscribers in the first three months of 2020, and a further 10 million between April and June. The company’s business model has proved itself to be pandemic-proof, and with many upcoming blockbuster cinema releases delayed or moved to streaming, Netflix’s grip on our screens shows no signs of loosening.
Financial ServicesOakNorth BankUnited Kingdom
Fintech firm OakNorth had another impressive year in 2020, going from strength to strength while others floundered amid the pandemic. The challenger bank has topped the Financial Times’ list of fastest-growing European companies for 2020, and has approved more than £1.22bn in new loans to small and medium-sized businesses since March, including £400m through the British government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. As the country attempts to recover and rebuild itself, OakNorth expects to lend between £2bn and £3bn to SMEs in 2021 alone.
On balance, tech companies have had a rather profitable pandemic, and graphic-chip maker Nvidia enjoyed a particularly successful 2020, driven by increased demand for online gaming and remote computing services during lockdowns. As quarantined citizens looked for distraction and entertainment during the first wave of the pandemic, the total hours spent playing games on Nvidia’s platforms jumped by 50 percent, with the company posting a record revenue of $3.87bn in Q2. As a result, shares have surged since the onset of COVID-19, seeing the firm leapfrog Intel Corp as the largest US semiconductor company by value.