5 Fintechs to Watch in 2021: From Payment Unicorns to Crypto Investing

The financial services industry is approaching 2021 with vigour that is completely different from the one harboured a year ago. The pandemic fuelled digital transformation has led global banks and financial institutions to rethink their priorities for a digital economy. With a rapid shift from physical to digital, cash to cards and digital payments – business ventures that are constructed to foster this change are taking off.

Though investments have been steadily flowing into fintech startups through last year, 2021 shows promise as the first quarter is on track to reach $15 billion in funding, a 39% quarter-over-quarter growth rate. But with companies swarming into the fintech ecosystem that is stirring with innovation, it can be hard to keep an eye on some of the firms that stand out from the crowd.

To help you, we have listed 5 companies from across the globe, that have managed to make it to the top 10% of fastest growing fintechs around the world based on their past and projected growth, as researched by Growjo. Though you may have not heard of them all, here is our pick for the top fintechs to watch in 2021:

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This revolutionary upstart has been catching eyeballs everywhere with its new business model based on the proposition, ‘Don’t just buy crypto – start earning on it’. Zac Prince, the company’s co-founder describes BlockFi as a financial services company designed for crypto investors with an offering of retail and institutional-facing suite of products and services. This rocket-fuelled company made its way to the top of Grojwo’s 500 Fintech companies in the world for 2021. With the waves that digital currencies are making in the current financial landscape, this company is definitely setting sail in the right direction.

BlockFi just closed a massive $350 million Series D funding that valued it at $3 billion – a giant leap from its previous valuation of $450 million last August.

With limited banking services for crypto holders, this fintech unicorn has created a stronghold in an opportune position. This will definitely be a company to watch as the year unfolds.

Source: BlockFi

Source: TechCrunch

There is a gaping ‘Robinhood-sized’ hole in the European market of low-cost trading platforms that is waiting to be plugged in. While there are a few players eyeing the playing field, Trade Republic, a German startup founded in 2015 is rising up the ranks. 

Trade Republic promises low-cost access to stock, ETF and derivative trading services to private investors through their mobile device, commission-free. While the commission-free trading landscape has come under scrutiny after the Gamestop fiasco, Trade Republic says it is nothing like Robinhood and promotes a more ‘responsible’ way of trading.

While the ethics behind the trading app could be debatable, we cannot overlook that  people are flocking to get a taste of its offering. According to Airnow data, the app has been downloaded 1.2 million times, making it a leading German brokerage app. A combination of lockdown boredom, market volatility and commission-free services have synergistically led to the rise of first time traders, nudging Trade Republic to keep growing.


The Australian Payments firm, Airwallex is another company cropping up on the world’s high-growth company radar. Airwallex is a B2B focused company that allows businesses to avail cross-border payment services easily and cheaply. The Aussie Unicorn, founded in 2015, recently raised an additional $40 million to its earlier funding of $250 million

The company has achieved some impressive milestones as it marked a 50% increase in its global consumer base in 2020. It also claimed a 100% increase in net revenue in the last quarter of 2020 owing this significant cash inflow to growth in the e-commerce, technology and logistic sectors.

Source: AIrwallex

“A major shift in the way businesses operate from offline to online is something Airwallex predicted from our inception,” says Airwallex’s co-founder and chief, Jack Zhang.

The spell that pandemic cast on businesses worldwide to digitally transform has definitely played a part in boosting Airwallex’s growth. Reaping the benefits from these gains, this agile startup now plans to widen its market by drawing in the United States in 2021.


This technology company is redefining KYC procedures across banks as it carves its niche in the online ID verification arena. Onfido’s processes that include analysing a person’s biometrics and verifying it with a government issued card is powered by artificial intelligence. These fundamental services are what gives other fintechs like Bunq and Revolut the capability to carry out quick, efficient and secure verifications remotely.

“We’re standardizing the way everyone proves their real identity, in a similar way to how Facebook has standardized the way everyone shares their social identity, and LinkedIn has standardized the way everyone signals their professional identity,” CEO Husayn Kassai said in a statement.


Source: Onfido

Onfido is definitely on the run for the money as it recorded a 82% year-over-year increase in global annual recurring revenue in 2020. The tidal wave of cash came crashing in just as a new touch-free world emerged amidst a global pandemic where Onfido’s verification services rose to record levels. The company is definitely worth watching as we tread into a predominantly virtual world. 

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Source: Checkout.com

The name says it all. ‘Checkout.com’ is here to become the one stop shop for all things payments. This includes accepting transactions, processing them and also detecting fraud. Though this payments venture may barely surprise you with its offering, it is essential in today’s digital world. The recent coronation of the company as Europe’s most valuable unicorn will help put the startup’s worth in perspective. This fintech unicorn’s valuation tripled to $15 billion after its recent fundraising of $450 million in an investment led by Tiger Global Management.

Checkout.com has been able to grab a large piece of the pie by filling its pockets with revenue flowing in from some big companies like Deliveroo, TransferWise and Virgin Gyms, to name a few. The company a;ready managed to triple its payments processing volume in 2020 compared to 2019.

But, the company is not resting on its laurels. It’s out to establish itself as a leader in the market as digital commerce continues to grow. It even plans to enter the US market in 2021 to further solidify its position as a lead

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In conclusion

The global pandemic has undoubtedly shifted the narrative in financial services as we forge towards a ‘new normal’. In a whirwhild of digital transformations, consumers are also changing their behaviour for the long haul. These startups have found their sweet spot amidst these developments and are here to make their mark in the fintech industry across the globe. They are worth keeping an eye out for as they are sure to make big waves as the world witnesses a paradigm shift in the financial technology landscape.

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