With the inefficiencies and frustration caused by the current banking systems, fintech is widely believed to be the game changer to disrupt the whole financial world. In 2015, over 23 billion dollars were spent on fintech-related projects globally, which is over 185% of the investment in 2014 and almost 490% of that just two-year earlier – in 2013. The digitalization and transformation of financial services including new currencies, transactions and business models across different corner of the industry have significantly improved simplicity, transparency and customer-friendliness of the widely known complex financial systems. By 2015, there are 27 unicorns worldwide, 14 of which are based in the US, 8 from China and 5 from the rest of the world.
Of all the six main fintech sectors (Financing, Lending, Payments, Insurance, Enterprise/SaaS, and Financial Services), Payments and Lending alone account for almost 78% the total valuation of the global fintech industry, making them the two largest fintech markets so far as more and more people use their cell phones to make transactions. However, as these two areas mature and become increasingly populated, ample opportunities lie within the other sectors, especially with the arrival of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain.
Here are the notable 5 unicorns which are actively shaping the world of finance:
Founded in 2011 in San Francisco, Stripe is currently the biggest US fintech unicorn by valuation ($5 Billion). Its diverse platforms allow companies to receive and manage transactions from customers quickly and easily, both through bank account and credit cards. Stripe also developed an e-commerce payment add-in API to make it easier for customers to purchase goods in third-party mobile apps, which add great value to both customers and vendors.
Undeniably the largest fintech company in the world with $60B valuation, Ant Financial was officially founded in October 2014 and originated from Alipay which is the world's leading third-party payment platform founded in 2004. With its vision of "bringing small and beautiful changes to the world," Ant Financial is dedicated to creating an open ecosystem, enabling financial institutions and partners to make rapid progress towards "Internet+" goals through its "Internet Booster Plan," and providing inclusive financial services to small and micro enterprises and individual consumers.
The second largest fintech company in the world, LU.com is also based in Shanghai, China. LU.com operates as a P2P lenders, now branching out their business to fit a broader vision, including working with funds and insurance companies.
A 4-billion-dollar US startup, SoFi specializes in refinancing student loans and mortgages. in March 2013, SoFi secured a $60 million line of credit from Morgan Stanley. In December 2013 it completed a $151 million securitization of refinanced graduate student loans--the first such securitization by a peer-to-peer lender. It sold another $251 million in notes in July and $303 million in November, with an A rating from S&P and A2 from Moody's.
Founded in 2007 in San Francisco, Credit Karma has been transforming users’ experience by offering free ongoing access to their credit reports from TranUnion and Equifax. Credit Karma also provides free online tools and information to help you understand your score, with specific actions, based on your profile – say, reduce your credit utilization or improve your on-time payments – that you can take to improve it.