8 global fintech start-ups shaping the future of finance

30 Sep 2021

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As people become increasingly dependent on technology to help manage their finances, these fintechs are ones to watch in 2021.

The world of banking and financial services is becoming increasingly digital, and new fintech start-ups are gaining ground in spaces dominated by traditional banks.

The World Economic Forum’s 2021 list of Technology Pioneers represents a collection of 100 early to growth-stage companies  that have the potential to impact their industries.

Future Human

This year’s list includes start-ups shaking up data and cybersecurity, blazing a trail in blockchain and digital assets, innovating in the IoT and smart cities space and developing the factories of the future.

Here we take a closer look at eight fintech start-ups featured on the list, offering innovative tech services that modern, digital-first customers may find hard to refuse.

Aspire

Aspire is a banking software platform for entrepreneurs and businesses to manage their finances. It provides services such as borderless payments, corporate and virtual cards, expense and invoice management tools, and digital credit options. It also offers multi-user access to business accounts by allowing the addition of unlimited authorised team members.

Based in Singapore, Aspire is focused on business owners in the south-east Asian market. It was co-founded in 2018 by CEO and Y Combinator alum Andrea Baronchelli. Earlier this week, Aspire announced that it raised $158m in Series B funding to invest in its development of a ‘financial operating system’.

CredoLab

This Singapore-based fintech aims to help lenders make better, data-driven decisions in real time. CredoLab uses the power of artificial intelligence to crunch through what it calls ‘alternative data’ – a customer’s metadata that is not traditionally considered when determining credit scores for borrowing.

CredoLab was founded in 2016 by CEO Peter Barcak. In August 2020, it raised $7m in Series A funding led by GBG.

FinMkt

FinMkt is a digital lending fintech that aims to help businesses make point-of-sale financing simpler through its software platform. The SaaS company offers customisable and end-to-end software for banks, credit unions, financing companies, merchants and referral partners. Its cloud-based interface looks to help clients prequalify customers for financial products, reduce turndowns and improve customer experience.

The company was founded in 2011 by CEO Luan Cox and is based in New York City. Cox has held various executive roles in financial services companies. She is a mentor for Techstars’ fintech accelerator, a tech adviser to the Springboard Accelerator and featured in the 2020 list of top 25 women leaders in fintech by The Financial Technology Report.

Fondeadora

This Mexican digital banking start-up aims to replace traditional banking by helping customers “take back control” of their money. At no opening cost and minimum balance requirement, users can download the app and order an international virtual card. It also gives users a debit card that can be used for cross-border transactions and to withdraw money from ATMs.

Fondeadora was founded by René Serrano and Norman Müller, who are co-CEOs of the start-up. In March, Fondeadora raised $14m to add to its existing Series A funding of $14m from last year.

Kuda

Kuda is a London-based digital banking start-up that aims to make banking more accessible and affordable for Africans. Based on a phone app just like other neobanks such as Revolut and Monzo, Kuda provides full banking services to the African market without commissions or service charges. This includes operating a spending account, accessing credit, investing in savings and earning annual interest.

Currently only available in Nigeria, the fintech was founded by UK-based Nigerian entrepreneurs CEO Babs Ogundeyi and CTO Musty Mustapha. Ogundeyi is a former PwC manager while Mustapha has held various software developer positions in Nigeria. Last month, Kuda raised $55m at a $500m valuation.

Propel

This US-based fintech is working to help low-income Americans manage their finances and government benefits on a monthly basis through an app. The electronic benefits transfer (EBT) app helps users access social welfare resources all in one place. Propel also provides additional services such as access to coupons for discounts at stores and job-finding help.

Propel was founded in 2014 by former Facebook and LinkedIn product manager Jimmy Chen and is based in New York City. Chen, who is the CEO of Propel, is also vice-chair of communications at the US eGovernment Payments Council.

Souqalmal

Souqalmal is a Dubai-based financial comparison platform that allows users in the Middle East to search for and compare options for insurance, loans, banks and credit cards to find services best suited to their needs and budget.

Based on the Arabic word for ‘money market’, Souqalmal was founded by CEO Ambareen Musa. Musa has worked as a management consultant at Mastercard and Bain & Company and is a former member of the UN task force on digital financing for the Sustainable Development Goals. Souqalmal has raised $11.5m over seven funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

Unit21

This San Francisco-based start-up aims to help businesses detect and protect themselves against money laundering, fraud and other related threats. Using a customisable, no-code platform to complete risk and compliance tasks, the Unit21 dashboard lets users monitor transactions and assist with know-your-customer verification.

Unit21 was founded in 2018 by CEO Trisha Kothari and CTO Clarence Chio. Kothari is a former product manager at US fintech Affirm while Chio is a lecturer of applied machine learning at the University of California, Berkeley. In July, Unit21 raised $34m in Series B funding led by Tiger Global.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com