What is Fintech?
Understanding what is Fintech starts with understanding what is currently happening in the field. Fintech is all the rage in 2018. In the first half of 2018, there are 12 fintech mega-rounds total at US$2.2 billion. Currently, there are 34 fintech unicorns startups in the world, with an aggregated value at US$115.64 billion.
What is fintech? EY defines Fintech organisation as ones “combining innovative business models and technology to enable, enhance and deliver financial services”. These fast-growing fintech startups are shaking up the status quote. Below are five of the leading hubs of fintech that is driving innovation in the world of finance.
London is one of the greatest connected cities with the financial capability of New York and the technological capability of Silicon Valley. London is currently the no1 fintech hub in the world. The UK’s fintech industry attracted over US$16 billion investment in the first half of 2018, more than any other country.
In early 2018, Worldpay, a London-based payment processing company, was acquired for US$12.9 billion. Their IPO in 2015 was valued at US$7.4 billion, making it the largest UK fintech IPO to date. This showed that London is not only a great place to launch a fintech company, but that London has all the resources to help startups to scale, be successful and achieve a world-class exit.
London is also an impressive launchpad for challenger banks.
In 1st half of 2018, Revolut has raised $250 million at a $1.7 billion valuation, becoming a unicorn in just three years. Atom Bank has also raised $514 million at a US$1.25 billion valuation.
In the 2nd half of 2018, Monzo has raised a total of £105 million from VCs and crowdfunding at a US$1.27 billion valuation.
As the world-leading hub for technological innovations, Silicon Valley is the home of numerous top fintech startups. These include:
- Stripe, a payment technology company that enables online payments for millions of businesses, raised US$245 million at a US$20 billion valuation.
- Robinhood Finance, a commission-free trading app, secured $363 million in May 2018 at a US$5.6 billion valuation.
- Credit Karma, a fintech startup offers free credit scores, received US$500 million funding in early 2018 at a valuation of approximately US$4 billion.
Silicon Valley is also home to top VC firms in the world such as Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Ribbit Capital, Accel Partners, and Khosla Ventures, providing unparalleled access to funding and community.
Without a doubt, New York is the global financial center with the largest and most established financial services institutions. Its proximity to a huge potential customer base of financial institutions and access to the best talents in finance makes New York an ideal fintech launchpad. Top New York-based fintech startups include:
- Oscar, a digital health insurance that took just 16 months to break the US$1 billion valuation mark. With its latest US$165 million funding raised on March 2018, it is now valued at US$3.2 billion.
- UiPath, a platform that helps businesses automate business processes and is used by finance firms, grew by 10x in just a year. Its recent US$265 million funding puts its valuation at US$3 billion.
Singapore is the leading fintech hub in Asia. In 2017 alone, there are US$229.1 million fintech fundings in Singapore. Their success can be attributed to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s active role in creating a favourable environment for Fintech growth.
2018 has been a great year for Singapore fintech investment.
- Consentium, a mobile chat app that also allows multi-digital currency transfer between users, has raised US$20 million.
- StashAway, the first licensed robo-advisor in Singapore, has raised US$5.3 million.
- Kristal.ai, an AI-powered digital wealth management platform, has raised US$1.87 million.
- CardUp, an online card payments platform for cash management, has raised US$1.7M.
Hong Kong is not only the financial center of Asia, but also the bridge between China’s tech giants and the rest of the world. The Hong Kong government is now leveraging its advantage and investing heavily to be Asia’s leading fintech hub. Two fintech startups have been reported to have achieved a unicorn-status.
- BitMEX, the world’s largest Bitcoin / USD trading platform by volume, serving hundreds of thousands of customers transacting billions of USD per day. It was reported to be valued at US$3.6 billion.
- WeLab, a mobile lending platform that analyses unstructured mobile big data within seconds to make credit decisions for individual borrowers. WeLab operates Wolaidai, one of China’s largest mobile lending platforms, and WeLend, Hong Kong’s leading online lending platform. With over US$420M funding, WeLab was speculated to have a valuation of over 1 billion USD.
Why Understanding “What in Fintech?” Matters
Fintech is now blossoming around the world, disrupting the world of finance. Understanding what is fintech and being fluent with the new language of finance becomes crucial to a successful career in finance. To help finance professions around the world to be prepared for this age of digital transformation, CFTE has launched the Fintech Foundation Course, a fintech executive education program designed to provide an accessible and comprehensive overview of the landscape of financial technology to working professionals. Find out more here!