[“12 Top Fintech Companies to Watch” originally appeared on Entrepreneur.]
Financial technology (or “fintech”) has become an extremely trendy industry for startups because of its high growth potential and opportunity for nearly endless disruptive innovation. In fact, these scrappy companies have the potential to take away $4.7 worth of revenue from traditional financial services, according to Goldman Sachs.
Fintech companies are represented in account management, lending and financing, payment processing, and financial assets and capital markets, but what makes them so attractive for small and large businesses is their focus on the customer’s needs. Financial information and processing is readily available, which allows for a business to handle important matters quickly, providing consumers with a means to conduct instant, frictionless, digital transactions at an unprecedented speed.
Venture capitalists are taking notice of the fintech explosion; $23 billion of venture and growth equity has been deployed to these over the last five years, according to a report by McKinsey. Over $150 billion could be invested in fintech companies over the next 3-5 years, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The mark of a fintech company that will truly succeed all boils down to audience acquisition. Remember, 90 percent of startups fail – and fintech is no different. In fact, one might argue that fintech companies have a much more difficult road than most startups because their technology specifically deals with the transfer of money, which everyone is very sensitive about. One wrong move on the startups part and they might just lose credibility forever.
In light of all this, there are a number of fintech startups that are knocking it out of the park and rising to the top because of their abilities to identify a niche, build a truly innovative technology for them, and craft a user experience that inspires confidence. Here are the top 10 fintech companies to watch this year:
Founded by brothers Patrick and John Collison, Stripe is a competitor to another fintech company — Paypal. The Irish technology company, operates in over 25 countries, allowing both private individuals and businesses to accept payments over the Internet.
Stripe recently raised $150 million in November of 2016 in a deal co-led by General Catalyst Partners and CapitalG, which valued the startup at $9.2 billion. This almost double the $5 billion valuation it had achieved in 2015. Stripe is backed by Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk.
Stripe started off serving smaller customers. In 2016 Fortune 500 companies started seeking Stripe services. “This year, Target, SAP, the NFL, and both presidential campaigns used Stripe’s services to power at least some of the payments processing they build into their apps and websites,” says Stripe CFO Will Gaybrick.
Related: 25 Payment Tools for Small Businesses, Freelancers and Startups
YapStone, founded in 1999, has focused on providing end-to-end payment solutions to multi-billion dollar sharing economy marketplaces and vertical markets, such apartment and vacation rentals. “Our strategy is to be all things payments for the largest marketplaces in the world,” says YapStone CEO Tom Villante.
This focus has contributed to YapStone’s accelerating growth in staff, revenue and payment volume; the company processes over $15 billion in payment volume annually. YapStone’s revenue has increased over 7-fold since it raised $50 million with Accel Partners and Meritech Capital Partners in 2011. YapStone has raised a total of $110 million since inception.
Braintree, which is a subsidiary of PayPal, is a company based in Chicago that specializes in mobile and web payment systems for ecommerce companies. In 2013, PayPal acquired Braintree in an all-cash deal worth $800 million. Braintree’s technology is used to process credit card payments on over 3,000 e-commerce sites, including Fab.com, Airbnb, Uber, Hotel Tonight, LivingSocial and the Angry Birds games.
Braintree was one of the first fintech companies to focus on mobile commerce. “The shift to mobile is coming and it is coming very quickly,” said Braintree CEO Bill Ready. Of the $4.5 billion in sales that the company processes each year, $1 billion of those are on mobile phones.
Transaction volume on its platform has grown 25x, nearly tripling every year since it was acquired. In 2015, the company said it surpassed $50 billion in payment volume.
Adyen is a technology company based in Amsterdam that provides businesses with a single solution to accept payments anywhere in the world. Adyen serves more than 4,500 businesses including Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, L’Oreal, Spotify, Dropbox, Evernote, Booking.com, Vodafone, Mango, Crocs, O’Neill, SoundCloud, KLM, and JustFab.
Ayden was recently named as a leader among Global Commerce Payment Providers. Adyen’s 100 percent growth rate makes it a top IPO candidate. In 2015, the company almost doubled revenue to $350 million, with over $50 billion in payments processed. This gives the company a $2 billion-plus valuation.
5. Lending Club
Considered a pioneer in the fintech industry, Lending Club is a US peer-to-peer lending company, headquartered in San Francisco, California. The world’s largest peer-to-peer lending platform, Lending Club operates an online lending platform that enables borrowers to obtain a loan, and investors to purchase notes backed by payments made on loans.
Lending Club has gone from birth to IPO while arranging $7.6 billion in financing, and now lending to small businesses. Lending Club stated that $15.98 billion in loans had been originated through its platform in 2015.
Addepar was co-founded by Joe Lonsdale and Jason Mirra in 2009. It is an investment management technology company that offers an integrated financial software platform. Its software is used by single and multi-family offices, wealth advisors, large financial institutions, and endowments and foundations.
With 97 percent year-over-year growth, Addepar reports more than $500 billion in assets on its platform. The company recently announced a partnership with Salesforce.
Addepar won the 2016 CODiE Award for Best Financial Management Solution.
With student loan debt being a real issue, Commonbond is a marketplace lender that lowers the cost of student loans for borrowers and provides financial returns to investors. The company refinances graduate and undergraduate student loans for graduates, saving the average borrower over $14,000 over the life of the loan.
The company was founded in 2012 by David Klein, Michael Taormina, and Jessup Shean. In 2016, the company raised $300 million in debt to loan out to prospective borrowers. Since its beginning, the company has raised around $1 billion.
What makes Commonbond attractive is its technology, which simplifies and speeds up the process of getting a student loan, and a business model that puts customer service front and center. CommonBond has refinanced more than $100 million worth of student loans, and projections going into 2016 were for more than $1 billion.
Related: 8 Companies Making Payment Handling Easy
As it becomes harder to secure loans from a bank, Kabbage provides funding directly to small businesses and consumers through an automated lending platform. The company was founded by Rob Frohwein, Marc Gorlin, and Kathryn Petralia in 2009, and is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.
Kabbage’s small business product is a line of credit up to $100,000. It is based on a number of data factors, including business volume, time in business, transaction volume, social media activity, and the seller’s credit score. The company lent more than $1 billion to small businesses in 2015.
In 2016, Kabbage raised $135 million, giving it a valuation of $1 billion. In 2016, Kabbage was named to CNBC’s annual Disruptor 50 List and was named to the Inc. 500 list for the second year in a row.
Founded in 2013 by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, Robinood is a smartphone app that allows individuals to invest in publicly traded companies and exchange-traded funds listed on U.S. exchanges without paying a commission on your smartphone.
As of March 2016, it has nearly one million customers and has raised a total of $66 million in venture capital funding.
Wealthfront is an automated investment service firm founded by Andy Rachleff and Dan Carroll in 2008. Wealthfront is part of an emerging financial niche known as “roboadvisors.” The company aims to upend the core financial advising business provided by traditional investment companies that have been using employees for decades to communicate advice about stocks and mutual funds.
The company started 2013 with $97 million in assets under management and grew by 450% in one year. As of December 2016, Wealthfront had more than $4 billion of assets under management. The company has a valuation of $700 million.
SoFi was founded in 2011 by Mike Cagney, Dan Macklin, James Finnigan, and Ian Brady. The company is an online personal finance company that provides student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans.
The firm’s lending algorithms ignore strict credit scores used by banks in favor of practical indicators of ability to pay. High Earners Not Rich Yet, known as HENRYs, are its main customer base. As of 2016, SoFi has funded more than $12 billion in total loan volume and has 175,000 members. The company now plans to compete directly with traditional banks. “We feel very confident that in 2017 you’ll be able to have a Sofi bank account … with a debit and/or credit card,” says Cagney.
Two things credit and debit card users hate — fraudulent charges and hidden fees. BillGuad operates as a personal finance security and productivity company to keep its users aware of their financial matters. Its mobile and website application scans credit card and debit card transactions, alerting users to irregular activity such as scams, billing errors, fraudulent charges, and hidden fees.
Founded in 2010 by Yaron Samid and Raphael Ouzan, the company has flagged over $60 million of suspect charges for its users. In 2015, BillGuard was acquired by Prosper Marketplace for $30 million. BillGuard was named One of the Top Online Banking Innovations of all Time by Market Consensus and recognized as a Top 10 Tech Company by American Banker.