25 fantastic fintech start-ups to watch


28 Nov 20161628 Shares

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Keep your eyes on these 25 fintech start-ups set for an exciting 2017. Image: valeriiaarnaud/Shutterstock

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

With start-ups across Europe riding the fintech wave, 2017 is set to be another exciting year for this sector.

Fintech continues to be a hot ticket in the world of entrepreneurship – a trend that’s set to continue as banks and traditional financial institutions move to collaborate more and more with their would-be disruptors.

This week, as we explore what the fintech sector can bank on in 2017, we start with a look at 25 European fintech start-ups from which we expect great things in the coming year.

Inspirefest 2017

TransferWise

Launched in 2011 by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, TransferWise is a peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer service with a HQ in London and eight offices around the world – though some post-Brexit changes may well be afoot.

TransferWise claims that its online transfers cost up to eight times less than traditional banks and this year marked its move beyond consumer payments, with the launch of a platform especially for businesses.

Noted as one of the unicorns of London’s start-up scene, TransferWise’s investors include Peter Thiel and PayPal founder Max Levchin, among others.

Meniga

Icelandic start-up Meniga provides white-label software to banks to help speed up development of online platforms.

Founded in Reykjavík in 2009 by Georg Lúðvíksson, Ásgeir Örn Ásgeirsson and Viggo Ásgeirsson, Meniga’s software has been used by over 40m people through its worldwide banking clients.

A 2015 Santander deal raised significant growth expectations for the company which has, to date, scored three rounds of investment totalling $14.77m. Now, the company aims to further its efforts and help banking services reach compliance with upcoming regulations, such as PSD2.

Future Finance

Hailing from Dublin, Future Finance is a specialist loan provider targeting students. Earlier this year, CEO Brian Norton said that almost 40,000 students had sought loans through its service since it began in 2014. Business is largely UK-based for now, but plans are to gain traction in Ireland, Germany and the rest of Europe in time.

Future Finance’s decisions are entirely data-driven, using algorithms built from scratch in Dublin. This year, the young company has been raising funds to the tune of €150m and creating jobs in its hometown.

Aztec Exchange

Aztec Exchange has had an exciting year, culminating with a spot on ForbesFintech 50 list alongside Stripe – the daddy of all Irish-founded fintechs.

Founded in 2012, this Dublin-based service supports businesses around the world, offering low-cost invoice discounting for suppliers and supply chains of major corporations.

The company reportedly raised €3.5m in funding earlier this year, before launching a new e-invoice finance solution, PayMe, in May. Using PayMe, registered suppliers can sell their invoices online and receive the working capital they need within days, while Aztec Exchange receives a fee for each successful transaction.

Deposify

Yet another Dublin fintech, Deposify lets landlords and tenants manage and control how and when deposits are paid.

At just two years old, the start-up founded by Jon Bayle has been recognised as a disruptive force in the rental market and has received the backing of the Union of Students in Ireland.

After raising €1.1m for a US expansion, Deposify selected Boston as the location of its new HQ, with plans for more offices in New York and other urban markets.

SumUp

Founded in 2012 by Daniel Klein, SumUp provides small firms with mobile point-of-sale services via Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android smartphones.

Earlier this year, it merged with leading mobile card payments company Payleven, joining forces in April to become the global leader in mobile payments.

As of September, SumUp became the first mobile payment company to hit profitability, having doubled its revenues in the last six months, and is currently approaching $100m in annual revenue.

PayFit

France-based payroll management start-up PayFit was created this year by Ghislain de Fontenay, Florian Fournier, and CEO Firmin Zocchetto. Already sporting hundreds of customers, PayFit provides a SaaS platform that helps SMEs to pay their employees.

Since its April foundation, PayFit has already raised €5m thanks to its straightforward payments system. Companies pay monthly subscriptions, while PayFit provides employer-based interfaces and also includes employee logins so they can download pay cheques and put in for time off.

As yet, the product is only available in France, though international plans are in the making.

Aid:Tech

Just two years old, Irish start-up Aid:Tech is making aid entirely transparent using blockchain technology.

CEO Joseph Thompson cites that $1.1trn of essential aid is lost through global corruption, while 30pc of the $161bn donated by OECD countries each year simply ‘disappears’. To counter this, Aid:Tech uses an intelligent voucher system with unique IDs for refugees to receive aid.

A London Techstars accelerator alum, Aid:Tech has secured deals with the UN, the Red Cross and Concern. Future plans for this technology could see the company take on social welfare payments in the form of remittance.

Iwoca

Iwoca is a London-based loan provider, established in 2012 by Christoph Rieche (CEO) and James Dear (CTO). To date, it has raised £46m in debt and equity, growing to a team of 120 employees.

Iwoca provides online credit for small businesses, operating as a type of overdraft service, with the founders’ experience in the likes of Goldman Sachs, helping them find a niche worth exploiting.

Its position in the UK fintech scene is such that it recently secured a place as one of NatWest’s referral partners, positioning this start-up to expand in future.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank is a licensed mobile-only challenger bank in the UK, founded by former AIB COO, Anne Boden in 2014.

The Starling Bank app has been built to replace current accounts and offers clear-cut information on personal finance and detailed analysis of spending habits.

Starling isn’t the only hi-tech bank entering the UK market – it’s not even the only one on this list – but it’s among the most highly regarded.

This month, they began trialling a next-generation contactless debit card, readying for a full consumer launch of its modern banking offering in January 2017.

Aire

Aire has built a machine-learning algorithm that assigns credit scores based on validated data provided by users. This gives users control over their own credit score and ensures that all data affecting their score has been willingly provided. It’s transparent and it’s essential for those unfairly judged by current credit scoring systems, such as young customers or self-employed workers.

Founded in 2014 by Dr Srini Sundaram, Jon Bundy and Aneesh Varma, Aire recently announced $2m in funding, along with regulatory approval from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. Watch this space.

Klarna

Founded by Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Victor Jacobsson and Niklas Adalberth in Sweden back in 2005, Klarna established itself early on as a rather unique e-payments company.

Capitalising on impulse buying, Klarna enables online shoppers to buy with one click and no financial details. Instead, Klarna pays the retailer, following up with the customer afterwards and edging towards its goal of replacing credit cards.

At the end of last year, Klarna was valued at $2.25bn and, in total, the start-up has raised $383m in multiple major funding rounds in the last 11 years.

InvoiceFinance

Coming out of Amsterdam, InvoiceFinance provides an online marketplace for SMEs to have their outstanding invoices financed by professional and institutional investors, regardless of industry or the size of the company.

The goal here is for start-ups and small businesses to use InvoiceFinance to access working capital by getting an advance on outstanding invoices within 24 hours, for a fraction of the invoice value, instead of waiting from 30 to 90 days for clients to pay.

Just one year old, founders Marijn van Aerle, Gion van den Bogaert and Sven van der Biezen secured €3.4m in a funding round this year.

GoCardless

Operating out of London, payments start-up GoCardless is already processing £1bn worth of transactions annually, having been created in 2011. It was founded by Hiroki Takeuchi (CEO), Tom Blomfield and Matt Robinson, the last of whom recently moved off to co-found Nested.

Balderton Capital, Accel Partners, Passion Capital and Y Combinator are among GoCardless’s funders, with the company so far raising around $20m in the past three years. It claims that over 16,000 companies use its technology, including the Guardian and the UK government.

Bondora

Based in Estonia, Bondora is the leading P2P lending platform for investing in European non-bank personal loans.

It offers investors above-market returns by issuing loans to individuals in Finland, Spain and Estonia, where the markets are underbanked in comparison to other Western European markets.

Bondora was founded by Pärtel Tomberg in 2009, and has become one of the fastest P2P lenders in the world. It has already had almost 20,000 investors who have put in over €73m. 89pc of those investors have earned over 10pc interest annually.

Monzo

The mobile-only bank for people who live their lives on their smartphones, Monzo is focused on building the best current account in the world for people who have outgrown bank branches and hate cheque books.

Formally known as Mondo, the company had to change its name earlier this year due to a trademark dispute and asked for suggestions from its consumers.

The company was founded last year by Tom Blomfield, Jonas Huckestein, Jason Bates, Paul Rippon and Gary Dolman, who all met while working at Starling Bank.

Brolly

UK insurtech start-up Brolly uses artificial intelligence to provide users with a ‘personal insurance concierge’ online and on their smartphone.

Brolly will tell users if they’re over or under-insured, if they have duplicate or missing cover, or whether they can get the cover they need at a better price. All of this comes through a simplified interface that even claims to make purchasing a policy as easy as tapping the app.

Established just this year, this early-stage start-up from the founding team of Phoebe Hugh and Chris Wessells has quite a bit of buzz around it.

Figo

Just last week, it was revealed that Figo secured €6.8m in Series B funding from a collective of German business angels and DB1 Ventures (the corporate VC arm of Deutsche Börse, owner and operator of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange), the latter of which handed over a seven-figure sum for a stake in the business.

Figo’s value is set to rise as the revised EU Payment Services Directive nears implementation. Founded by CEO André Bajorat, the Hamburg-based start-up has developed a PSD2-ready API for banks that connects modern services with more than 55m online banking accounts in Germany and Austria.

Moneyfarm

Founded in London by Paolo Galvani and Giovanni Daprà in 2011, Moneyfarm aims to make investment and wealth management low-cost, low-stress and accessible to everyone.

Bringing wealth management to your pocket (with an app, of course), Moneyfarm employs data drawn from the markets, and from a questionnaire you fill in, to build and monitor your portfolio.

Touting an ethos of transparency, Moneyfarm strives to avoid the potential conflicts of interest that can so often crop up in the world of financial advisers.

Satispay

Italian start-up Satispay is a payment system that allows users to pay friends and stores from their smartphones.

Founded in 2013 by Alberto Dalmasso, Dario Brignone and Samuele Pinta, the platform is currently restricted to Italian users, but the company hopes to expand Europe-wide.

While Satispay may be entering a crowded market of mobile payments, it does have a unique offering, having developed a system that’s completely independent from specific banks or credit and debit cards.

Alan

Alan officially launched as a licensed French health insurer in October, 10 months after the company was first formed.

In France, companies must offer a health insurance plan to employees and, using Alan, they can sign up and cover everyone in minutes. Insured employees can then access Alan’s online dashboard to submit reimbursements, add family members to their plan or simply get details on their coverage.

Fintech start-ups 2017: Alan

Image: Alan

Not even a year old, Alan has already raised €12m – one of the biggest French seed rounds ever – from OpenCNP, Power Financial, Partech Ventures and business angels.

IbanFirst

IbanFirst was founded by former Saxo Banque CEO, Pierre Antoine Dusoulier, to offer SMEs an alternative to banks which, he felt, did not serve small businesses’ best interests. Founded as FX4Biz in Brussels in 2013, the start-up relaunched under its new branding earlier this year.

Fintech start-ups 2017: IbanFirst

The IbanFirst team. Image: Daniel Osorio (Dani Oshi)/IbanFirst

IbanFirst operates a bank-as-a-service model, under which users pay only for the banking services they need.

Earlier this year, the start-up emerged from a €10m funding round, which will be put towards an expansion of services. So far, it has managed more than €1bn in transactions.

Circle

In October, P2P payments platform Circle arrived in Ireland and Spain, enabling users to send and receive money via their smartphones using the Circle app.

An EU-licensed money issuer, Circle has ambitions to serve the 500m-plus EU consumer market and is already live in the US and the UK.

Founded by Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire, Circle has so far raised $136m in four funding rounds from 19 investors. The company has its international HQ in Dublin, as well as an office in Shoreditch, London.

Rubicoin

One of Ireland’s largest fintech start-ups, Rubicoin was created to make the process of finding and buying shares in companies simpler and more attractive to new users.

CEO Emmet Savage (who co-founded the company with John Tyrrell) is a noted fintech influencer and his user-friendly app is the likely product of lifelong stock investors and tech geeks.

Starting this year with the launch of a new app for the US market, Rubicoin later raised €1.2m from new and existing investors to go global.

Everledger

Founded in 2015 by CEO Leanne Kemp, London start-up Everledger is using blockchain – a staple of financial technology – to tackle fraud in a multitude of high-value areas.

Starting as a permanent ledger for diamond certification and related transaction history, Everledger’s grand aim is to become a provenance platform for a variety of luxury goods where any counterfeit trading can prove exceptionally costly.

After uploading specifications on 980,000 diamonds to its blockchain verification technology, it announced partnerships with the Chai Wine Vault system and Vastari, a fine art and exhibition database.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Updated, 3.04pm, 28 November 2016: This article was updated to clarify that Jon Bayle is the sole founder of Deposify.