Top 10 Fintech startups
In September, analyst firm Envision Intelligence predicted growth in the global fintech market to be as high as 74% by 2025. Fintech Magazine takes a look at the top 10 fintech startups set to disrupt the industry this year, according to CB Insights.
10 | Plaid Technologies
Based in San Francisco, Plaid Technologies was founded in 2013 with the goal of “democratising financial services through technology.” The company’s offerings are centred around a toolkit that protects interactions and data exchanges between customers, banks and third-party applications. Currently the startup has thousands of customers that use its API suite to create applications. Officially valued at US$2.65bn, Plaid achieved unicorn status in December, making it the youngest unicorn in the top 10.
9 | Circle
“Crypto powered. People centric.” Bringing the power of the digital ledger to the customer base at large is at the centre of Boston-based fintech startup Circle’s mission. Founded in 2013 by Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville, Circle offers four products: Circle Invest, which simplifies investing in cryptocurrencies for the average user; Circle Pay, a peer-to-peer payment platform; Circle Trade, a cryptocurrency trading platform that processes $2bn worth of crypto payments per month; and Poloneix, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges. Circle obtained unicorn status in May 2018, and is currently valued at $3bn.
8 | Credit Karma
Also based in San Francisco, Credit Karma offers its customers free credit scores, credit monitoring services and insights, as well as free tax return assistance. The company was founded in 2007 by Kenneth Lin, Ryan Graciano and Nichole Mustard, with the goal of bringing “transparency and simplicity to the credit industry.” It attained unicorn status in September 2009, making it the oldest unicorn on the top 10 list, and is currently valued at $3.5bn. Credit Karma is primarily funded by Felicis Ventures, SV Angel and Founders Fund.
7 | Nubank
The only South American fintech startup in the top 10, Nubank is headquartered in San Paolo, Brazil and functions as a tech-driven alternative to traditional financial service providers. Founded in 2013, Nubank’s primary product offering is a zero-interest credit card, as well as a digital bank account and, as of December, a debit function on its card. The company is currently aiming to reach 120mn customers in 2019, particularly in demographics without access to banking services and credit cards. Nubank achieved unicorn status in March 2018 and is currently valued at $4bn.
6 | SoFi
Founded in 2011, SoFi (Social Finance) is headquartered in San Francisco and provides student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans. Due to its online-only structure, SoFi can offer loans at lower cost. In January 2018, Twitter COO Anthony Noto became the CEO of SoFi. The company achieved unicorn status in February 2015 and is currently valued at $4.5bn.
5 | Robinhood
Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Robinhood Markets Inc was co-founded by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt in 2013. The company’s app allows users to easily buy, sell and trade stocks in publicly traded companies and exchange-traded funds on US stock exchanges without paying commission. Zero-commission trading, twinned with the accessibility of its platform interface, has seen the company grow to serve over 2mn users. Robinhood attained unicorn status in April, 2017 and is currently valued at $5.6bn.
4 | Coinbase
Reportedly exceeding $1bn in revenue in 2017, Coinbase has been hailed as the “most user-friendly onramp to the cryptocurrency world” by Forbes. The company operates a digital wallet service that allows user to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin with over 10mn other users worldwide. Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Fred Ehrsam and current CEO Brian Armstrong. The company is based in San Francisco, achieved unicorn status in August, 2017 and is currently valued at $8bn.
3 | One97
India’s only entry to the fintech startup top 10, One97 Communications is headquartered in Noida and operates e-commerce payment system and digital wallet, Paytm. The Paytm brand also operates its own e-commerce retail platform, Paytm Mall, which sells electronics, groceries, fashion goods and motor vehicles, in the vein of Amazon’s online store. One97 achieved unicorn status in May 2015 and is valued at $10bn.
2 | Stripe
Headquartered in San Francisco, Stripe has established itself as a leader in providing digital infrastructure for online payments. The company’s platform processes billions of dollars across hundreds of thousands of businesses, according to Forbes. “Whether you’re creating a subscription service, an on-demand marketplace, an e-commerce store, or a crowdfunding platform, Stripe’s meticulously designed APIs and unmatched functionality help you create the best possible product for your users.” Founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison in 2010, Stripe’s valuation doubled in late 2018, up to $20bn from its valuation of $9.2bn in September of the same year.
1 | Lufax
Based in Shanghai, Lufax (also known as Lu.com) operates an online peer-to-peer lending service, in addition to its online finance marketplace, which focuses on providing lending services to small-to-medium enterprises and individuals. Founded in 2011, Lufax is currently the second-largest p2p lender in China. The company is primarily funded by Ping An Insurance and the Bank of China. Achieving unicorn status in 2014, it is the second oldest company and unicorn on the top 10. Lufax is currently valued at $38bn, slightly less than the company was aiming for in its December valuation, but more than double the estimated valuation when the company began its last round of funding in June 2018.