If you invest in or at least follow the stock market, you’re likely aware that the Fintech revolution has been one of the strongest global trends over the past few years. They say technology is progressing at an exponential rate, and when you take a deeper look at the Fintech sector, it’s easy to see why.
Fintech, or Financial Technology, is the integration of digital technology into existing or emerging financial services.
Fintech platforms and apps are working to disrupt the financial world and bring on the next fundamental iteration in what remains an archaic industry. With a growing reliance on mobile technology, as well as the ongoing digitization of currency and assets, we have reached a point where cash is being rendered useless. Combine this with a secular shift away from centralized financial institutions, and you can begin to realize why Fintech is the true path to democratized finance.
The public equities Fintech industry is dominated by some major players including PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), Block (NYSE:SQ), and SoFi (NASDAQ:SOFI). On top of that there are industry specific players like Affirm (NASDAQ:AFRM) for buy now pay later (BNPL), or Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) for NFT and cryptocurrency trading.
With the industry rapidly expanding to include all types of financial services, we can expect a major influx of new fintech players from the private markets. Where can we look for the next big fintech names? Follow the smart venture capital money, of course.
In this guide, we'll look at 20+ of the top Fintech startups that should be on your radar.
If you want to discover and stay up-to-date with recently funded startups, check out the MLQ VC: Recently Funded Startup app.
Let's get started.
Checkout.com is a cloud-based payments platform that was established back in 2012. Any business, no matter the size, needs to be able to accept payments for their goods or services.
This European fintech startup is building a full stack, end to end platform that seamlessly integrates its APIs into any site. It accepts nearly every major payment method including credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, AliPay, PayPal, and yes, even cryptos. In fact, some of Checkout.com’s biggest partners are crypto exchanges like Crypto.com, Moonpay, Kucoin, and Binance. You can also add companies like Netflix, Farfetch, Grab, Klarna, and Sony to that list.
Checkout.com recently completed a round of private investor funding, and raised 1 billion, giving the company a staggering valuation of $40 billion.
Deel is a fintech play on the future of the remote workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic created countless hardships for businesses and workers. But one barrier it did manage to break down was the rigid beliefs surrounding geographical limitations of hiring workers.
Remote work became the new normal, and companies like Deel are at the center of this new movement. Deel is an all in one enterprise solution, acting as a digital Human Resources department for global payrolls. Deel is able to help businesses hire any contractor in any location in under five minutes with no local entities.
Regardless of how you feel about the future of remote work, Deel officially reached Unicorn status after it was recently valued at $1.25 billion with investments from some of the biggest VC names in the industry like Andreessen Horowitz, YCombinator, and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.
Gemini is a fairly well known crypto exchange that was established in 2015 by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. If the name Winklevoss sounds familiar, they were featured in the movie The Social Network and famously feuded with Mark Zuckerberg after they alleged he stole the idea for Facebook.
Not only does Gemini offer crypto trading, but it has added a full suite of financial services including Gemini credit cards, Gemini Wallet, and Gemini Earn. In November, the company received a valuation of $7.1 billion. It is reasonable to expect Gemini to list publicly in the future as it continues to compete directly with the likes of Coinbase, FTX, and Crypto.com.
Anchorage Digital is the leading blockchain and crypto management platform that is used by institutions. So, what separates Anchorage from the rest of the digital asset management platforms out there?
Anchorage managed to snag a federal bank charter which gives it an edge over its competition in terms of financial services. The platform provides users with plenty of options for digital asset management including staking, trading, protocol governance, and other DeFi services. Remember, this is mostly used by institutions so we are talking massive sums of tokens and money. It famously handled the transaction of one of its leading investors, Visa, when it acquired a Cryptopunk NFT for 49.5 ETH last year.
Other investors involved in Anchorage’s $3 billion valuation include Andreessen Horowitz, Blackrock, Blockchain Capital, Kraken, PayPal, and Goldman Sachs.
Betterment is a part of a growing trend of mobile apps that provide automated and incremental investment services. The company has been around since 2010 and is considered a robo-advisor app. This means that you can simply set your investment goals and the app will do what it can to support these by using complex algorithms in the background.
Many call Betterment the pioneer of the robo-advisor industry, and with over 700,000 users and more than $33 billion in assets under management, it is a clear leader in the market. Betterment offers several different products including automated investing, checking accounts, IRA and 401(K) management, and even crypto investing.
Alpaca is a commission free stock and equities trading API that consumer-facing companies can use to enable the service on any platform. It recently changed its focus from a provider of stock trading to a fully integrated embedded finance service. This has exponentially grown its user base to over 100,000 brokerage accounts, while also scaling its partners to over 100 different partners at the end of 2021.
Part of its product and service portfolio is Payment for Order Flows, the controversial system used by platforms like Robinhood. Alpaca is also expanding to international markets as the global demand for digital trading continues to rise. Alpaca also recently announced it will be adding crypto trading to its embedded API as well in the near future.
Current investors in the platform include Spark Capital, Y Combinator, and Tribe Capital.
Alloy is tackling one of the biggest issues in digital finance: identity management. The company was established back in 2015 to assist people in signing up for new bank accounts.
Today, Alloy is providing its platform to allow for automated identity screening as well as fraudulent activity detection, and is even adding other services like credit writing. It has more than 200 existing customers including Gemini, Ally Bank, and Marqeta. Generally as financial institutions increase security, user experience tends to suffer. Alloy is solving this issue by seamlessly integrating the system without sacrificing the usability of the platforms.
In September, Alloy raised a $1.35 billion valuation led by Lightspeed Ventures.
Not to be confused with the US-based enterprise payment provider, the UK-based Ramp is attempting to corner the rapidly growing crypto payments space. Called the ‘PayPal for Crypto’ by many in the industry, Ramp was founded in 2017 and has managed to build a portfolio of over 400 partners since then.
Ramp allows sites to integrate crypto payments directly into their transaction systems by simply adding in its SDK which only takes a few hours to install. Ramp is bridging the gap between traditional finance or TradFi and digital finance. It recently received regulatory approval to operate within the US, as well as already having it in numerous European markets.
Origin is a young fintech company, having been established in 2019, that is already making major waves in the financial education industry. The service allows employers to provide financial education from Certified Financial Planners directly to their employees.
Generally any financial advice you receive from an employer is impersonal and difficult to navigate. With Origin, employees have direct access to these planners via video calls and other technology to communicate and create a plan that can then be automated. It is similar to a robo-advisor app with direct face to face peace of mind.
Tala is a fintech company that is disrupting the world of small business lending. The mobile-based platform is targeting entrepreneurs in emerging markets and is instantly approving loans in the range of 10 to $500. While this might seem like a small amount in the US, this money goes a lot further in developing countries.
Tala walks the walk in these markets as well with headquarter locations in Kenya, India, Mexico and Philippines. The company is also getting into cryptocurrencies, and is striving to become the first mass market blockchain and DeFi platform for developing markets.Tala is backed by Upstart, PayPal, Revolution Growth, and Lowercase Capital.
TrueLayer is an open banking platform and a major player in the ever-growing field of embedded finance. The company creates financial APIs that allow sites and platforms to seamlessly integrate payment options without having to go through the usual intermediaries. This puts credit card companies on notice as one thing these APIs can potentially provide is direct payments without having to pay transaction fees.
Like most other digital finance companies, TrueLayer is also getting into the crypto space and has a wide variety of partners including members of the eCommerce and gaming industries. TrueLayer also has some industry heavyweights as investors including Tiger Global, Tencent, and payments giant Stripe.
If there was one industry that needed a digital update, insurance is at the top of the list. New companies like Lemonade and Upstart are changing the game by adding in machine learning technology to approve or reject insurance claims within minutes.
Enter Ladder which offers users the ability to qualify for life insurance within five minutes of applying. Perhaps the pandemic has brought out the fragility of our own mortality, because in the US in 2021, Ladder issued over $30 billion in life insurance policies.
Ladder goes one step beyond traditional insurance tech firms and provides a vertically integrated end to end service. It doesn’t just approve you for insurance, it underwrites it, issues it, and administers the policy as well. The company received a valuation of $900 million last year and is on pace to become another tech unicorn by the end of 2022.
Established in 2013, Fundbox is a digital financial services and lending company that helps B2B small and medium sized businesses. Through 2021, Fundbox has connected with well over 325,000 small businesses and has provided over $2.5 billion in funding.
Fundbox prides itself on being immediately accessible by small businesses who need access to capital, with approval granted within minutes and funds available the next day. How does Fundbox operate so efficiently? It’s approval process is granted by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The company ran a round of funding last year and received a valuation of $1.1 billion.
PalmPay is revolutionizing the mobile payments industry in Africa with its rewards-based app system that also includes money transfers and the ability to pay bills. While it is based out of the UK, the app has over 5 million users across Nigeria and Ghana, and is helping to bring digital finance to a region of the world that has traditionally been without an organized system. PalmPay has partnered with Visa to begin expanding its coverage across Africa, and was recently added loan approvals and business POS to its product line.
Neo Financial is a Canadian fintech company that is attempting to disrupt the digital banking sector in the country. Based out of Calgary, Neo offers Canadians an online high interest savings account, a Mastercard that is incentivized with rewards, and is even turning its mind to digital mortgages in the future.
The company already has some major backing including from PayPal and Palantir founder Peter Thiel and Shopify founder Tobi Lutke. With the Canadian banking system dominated by the big banks in the sector, Neo is attempting to break the mould by introducing tech innovation that supports local Canadian businesses.
Taptap Send is a project that is helping to connect working people with their family members back home in developing countries. The platform is a cross-border remittance network that allows people in the US, UK, Canada, and European Union to send money to countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. It is a market that has hundreds of incumbents, but is also known for high fees and unreliable money transfers.
Taptap Send is trying to provide the most efficient and reliable platform to use for remittance, in a market that was estimated to be more than $589 billion in 2021 alone. Taptap Send does not charge any fees, and makes its revenues off of foreign exchange rates.
The company is estimated to have a valuation of around $715 million and has attracted investors from all around the world.
Qredo is a blockchain infrastructure builder that is leading the way in providing DeFi projects with the ability to offer instant cross-chain swaps between layer-1 and layer-2 protocols. It was one of the companies that helped to onboard El Salvador when the country adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender.
The company has some heavy hitters investing in it including Coinbase and projects like Avalanche and Terra. Qredo is also partnered with MetaMask to help bridge institutions with DeFi protocols.
Moving to an entirely different investment industry, Alt is an online-based trading platform for alternative asset investments. What exactly does that mean? Well, right now if you scour Alt’s online catalogue you’ll be able to find rare and valuable sports cards to buy.
The company is also looking to add other alternative assets in the future, which will likely include NFTs and other blockchain-based collectibles. The kicker here is that Alt has an actual vault where it stores the sports card to stay in pristine condition.
Another interesting fintech twist to Alt is the ability to loan money to investors by using the sports cards as collateral. While Alt has its fair share of venture capitalist investors, it also has stakes owned by Tom Brady, Giannis Antentokoumpo, and Marlon Humphrey.
Global Processing Services
It’s certainly not the most creative name for a fintech company, but Global Processing Services is making huge waves in the embedded finance market. GPS embeds payment technology into sites and apps, allowing for users to experience a seamless and completely digital payment experience.
The platform is used by companies in 48 countries around the world and is utilized by payment giants like Revolut, Curve, and Paidly. It has also received massive investments from the likes of Visa and Temasek, and is widely considered an industry leader in the field of embedded payment services.
Petal is a New York-based fintech company that is working to disrupt the credit industry. For individuals who are not able to get financial tools like credit cards because of bad credit history, Petal offers two Visa credit card products that are approved based on cash flow. The company also helps these users build a stronger credit score as any activity with the Petal Visa cards will help improve their credit standing with federal credit agencies.
Petal is partnered with Visa, Credit Karma, and Equifax just to name a few firms, and is nearing unicorn status with a valuation of around $800 million.
That's it for our list of the top 20 fintech startups to watch this year. We'll be sure to keep this list updated as new, up-and-coming startups enter the space.