Fintech, or financial technology, marks the emergence of the modern world financial sector. Fintech companies are disrupting the traditional banking and financial market setup with new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, peer-to-peer lending, predictive analytics, and data-driven marketing. The world of banking and finance has evolved from simple debit and credit of transactions with a foray of innovations including retail banking, online banking, investment, and crypto-currencies. The term financial technology applies to any innovation in terms of how people transact with a business. To put the significance of the fintech industry into perspective, the startups in this sector received $17.4 billion in funding in the year 2016. So who are the players driving the growth of this multi-billion dollar market?
Ant Financial is an affiliate of the Chinese Alibaba Group and is the most valuable fintech company in the world. Formerly operating under the name of Alipay, it is the world’s leading third-party payment platform and also runs Ant Financial Cloud and other financial services. The company recently surpassed the $100 billion valuations and also announced that it would launch a digital wallet service in Hong Kong with the help of a joint venture with Sir Li Ka-Shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings. The company focuses its efforts on green finance by promoting low-carbon lifestyle through digital financial instruments.
Adyen is a global payment company founded in 2006 that allows businesses to accept mobile, e-commerce, and point-of-sale payments. Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the company serves more than 4,500 firms including an impressive roster of customers, including, Spotify, L’Oréal, Facebook, Uber, Netflix, Burberry, Symantec, and Microsoft. The company almost doubled their revenue in the year 2016 and earned more than $700 million by connecting payment platforms across the world. In April 2017, the company was granted a European banking license, giving it the status of an acquiring bank.
Qudian is a Chinese Fintech company that operates as a student micro-loan site, which is an installment payment and investment management platform. The company saw an opportunity in the local markets where credit card purchases were not so popular. Qudian offered a payback of purchases in installment; thereby, driving the overall spending in the Chinese market. Being one of the top fintech companies, it has partnered with several e-commerce, financial services, and digital services providers in a bid to attract customers. According to rumors going around, the company is soon likely to go public by raising as much as $1 billion.
Xero is a New Zealand-based software company and also the fastest growing SaaS company. The company develops cloud-based accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses. The company has offices in New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK, and Singapore, which serves more than 1 million subscribers. Their products such as full accrual accounting system with a cashbook, debtors, creditors, automated daily bank feeds, invoicing, sales tax and reporting are used in over 180 different countries.
SoFi or Social Finance is an online personal finance company that offers student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans. The fintech company was founded by four Stanford graduate who sought to provide a more affordable option for people seeking to find their education using debt. SoFi initially utilized an alumni-funded lending model, which connected alumni and institutional investors with students and recent graduates through school-specific student loan funds. The company has since widened its portfolio to offer personal loans, student loan refinancing, mortgage loans, wealth management and life insurance. The fintech company is now a multi-billion-dollar company with over $19 billion in loans funded to more than 300,000 members.
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