Fintech 50 2020: The Newcomers

As the financial technology industry balloons, with venture capital funding growing at a faster pace than the rest of the tech sector, new fintech startups keep emerging.

Nineteen of the picks for our fifth annual Fintech 50 have never appeared on the list before. Many are digital-first banks, insurance startups and payments companies, which ate up a big chunk of fintech funding last year. One example is Dave, a Los Angeles-based neobank whose $1-a-month app offers checking accounts with no overdraft fees and cash advances of up to $100. Another is Insurify, an auto and home insurance comparison site founded by Bulgarian immigrant Snejina Zacharia that uses artificial intelligence to more cheaply sell policies online.

Payments startups are also thriving. Fattmerchant, based in Orlando, bundles online and in-store credit-card processing and sales analysis into one monthly subscription service. CEO Suneera Madhani says the service costs 30-40% less than what traditional payment processors charge. San Francisco startup Plastiq lets small businesses use a credit card to pay for expenses for which cards usually aren’t accepted—such as rent, inventory and contractors—and charges a 2.5% fee.


Headquarters: Los Angeles


With its cartoon bear mascot and “Banking for Humans” pitch, Dave’s $1-a-month app offers users checking accounts with no minimums or overdraft fees; automated budgeting; cash advances of up to $100; and the ability to build up their credit scores through reporting of rent and utility payments to credit bureaus.

Funding: $76 million from Section 32, Mark Cuban, Norwest Venture Partners and others; latest valuation of $1.2 billion

Bona fides: Five million-plus users, estimated 2019 revenue of $90 million

Cofounders: CEO Jason Wilk, 34, who founded three other startups prior to Dave; CTO Paras Chitrakar, 40; Chief Design Officer John Wolanin, 37

Divvy Homes

Headquarters: San Francisco

A digital take on the old rent-to-own model, Divvy buys homes clients select and then becomes their landlord. A 2% upfront fee and a portion of monthly rent can be converted into a downpayment if the tenant wants to buy later. Currently available in six markets, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Dallas.

Funding: $66 million from GIC, Andreessen Horowitz, Caffeinated Capital and others; latest valuation of $163 million*

Bona fides: Bought 900 homes last year, and is now receiving 10,000 applications a month

Cofounders: CEO Adena Hefets, 33, whose parents had to purchase a home with seller financing because they couldn’t qualify for a mortgage; chief product officer Brian Ma, 34; CTO Nick Clark, 37; senior software engineer Alex Klarfeld, 29, who made this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list


Headquarters: San Francisco

Uses predictive technology to quote term life insurance rates in about 10 minutes via its app and verifies applicants’ self-reported data with their actual medical and pharmacy records, requiring no medical exam for most buyers. The policies Ethos sells, designed specifically for its platform, have level premiums for 10 to 30 years and cap out at  $1.5 million in coverage. Available in all states except New York.

Funding: $107 million from GV, Accel, Sequoia Capital and others, including celebrity investors Jay-Z, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Durant and Will Smith; latest valuation of $450 million*

Bona fides: Partners with heavyweights Legal & General America to issue policies and Munich Re and RGA as reinsurers

Cofounders: CEO Peter Colis, 30, and CTO Lingke Wang, 29, were roommates at Stanford Business School when they hatched Ethos


Headquarters: London, England

Developed a blockchain to track the movement of goods from raw materials source to sales, with its first application tracking diamonds to make sure they don’t come from conflict zones. Now expanding to track cobalt, having signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy and a battery trade group in New Zealand.

Funding: $20 million  Tencent, Graphene, Rakuten and others Latest valuation of $100 million

Bonafides: 2 million diamonds totalling 900,000 carats are currently being tracked on Everledger’s blockchain, which is being used by 100 stores at the Fred Meyer Jewelers chain in the U.S.

Founder & CEO: Australian Leanne Kemp, 47


Headquarters: Orlando, FL

Small businesses have traditionally had to use different vendors to process credit card transactions in-store and online, and a separate tool if they want to analyze their sales. Fattmerchant bundles these services into one product for a monthly subscription rate that it says ends up costing users 30-40% less than traditional processors’ per-transaction charges.

Funding: $18 million from Fulcrum Equity Partners Latest Valuation of $140 million

Bona fides: Processed $2.3 billion in transactions in 2019 for 5,000 customers, including BMW dealerships and Pearle Vision stores

Cofounders: CEO Suneera Madhani, 32; president Sal Rehmetullah (Madhani’s brother), 30; CTO Jacques Fu, 34; chief strategy officer Lyndsey Lang, 27


Headquarters: San Francisco

Gives companies more control over their payment processing and helps them keep a greater share of the processing fees that merchants pay. Finix’s software can help medium and large businesses earn 0.4% more on every transaction processed compared with using traditional processors.

Funding: $55 million from Bain Capital Ventures, Homebrew, Sequoia Capital and others

Bona fides: More than 50 customers, including Lightspeed, a Canadian company that sells credit-card-acceptance software and processes $17 billion a year in transactions

Cofounders: CEO Richie Serna, 32, a former Booz & Company consultant and Sean Donovan, 36, who previously spent 14 years at large payment processor Vantiv (now WorldPay)


Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA

Using public data, satellite imagery, and smart home devices such as water-leak detectors, home insurance agent Hippo streamlines application process and minimizes claims. Just added twice yearly home maintenance check ups through platform Sheltr, acquired last November. Now licensed in 21 states, Hippo aims to sell nationwide by year-end.

Funding:  $209 million from Bond, Felicis Ventures and Lennar Corp. and others Latest valuation of $1 billion

Bona fides: Premiums grew more than fivefold last year; customer retention rate over 90%

Cofounders: CEO Assaf Wand, 45, and CTO Eyal Navon, 39, both Israeli-born serial entrepreneurs  


Headquarters: Cambridge, MA

With more than 130,000 auto insurance policies closed since its 2016 launch, comparison site Insurify now offers home and life policies too. Unlike other insurance comparison sites, CEO Snejina Zacharia, a Bulgarian immigrant, aims to use AI to close all policies online, without buyers talking to an agent, and she promises Insurify won’t sell your data to other brokers.

Funding:  $30 million from Hearst Ventures, MTech Capital, MassMutual Ventures and others

Bona fides: 67% of auto policies are closed online, without the touch of a human agent

Cofounders: CEO Snejina Zacharia, 43, her husband Giorgos Zacharia (CTO of Kayak), 46, and product head Tod Kiryazov, 35


Headquarters: New York City

Hybrid human-robo advisory service designed for boomers looking to make their money last in retirement. Kindur lures prospects with free robo-plans, then pitches two levels of paid service: personalized advice on tax-smart retirement account withdrawals, starting at $99 a year and comprehensive money management, with a dedicated CFP and monthly retirement “paycheck” for 0.25% of assets (over $500,000) or 0.50% of assets (for smaller amounts) a year.

Funding:  $11 million from Anthemis, Inspired Capital, Point 72 Ventures and others Latest valuation of $35 million*

Bona fides: More than 21,000 people with $14 billion in retirement savings have built free plans on Kindur since its launch last April

Founder & CEO: Rhian Horgan, 42, a 17-year JPMorgan veteran who conceived Kindur after watching her parents try to manage their money in retirement


Headquarters: San Francisco

Digital health savings account platform offers workers access to a fee-free investing (through TD Ameritrade) of the money they’ve socked away tax free for future medical costs. Employers pay $2.95 per worker a month. Lively plans to add flexible savings accounts in late 2020.

Funding: $42 million from Costanoa Ventures, Point Judith Capital, Y Combinator and others; latest Valuation of $112 million*

Bona fides: Users have nearly $200 million in accounts, double the amount of a year ago

Cofounders: CEO Alex Cyriac, 37, and COO Shobin Uralil, 37, childhood friends who started Lively after commiserating over hefty out-of-pocket healthcare expenses


Headquarters: New York City

This decentralized finance platform lets borrowers use volatile cryptocurrency as collateral for loans of stablecoins (called dai) pegged to the U.S. dollar. The borrower pays interest on the loans, but if the crypto collateral falls too far, it’s sold to pay off the loan.

Funding: $63 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Dragonfly Capital, Polychain; latest valuation of $500 million

Bonafides: Maker generated $10 million in interest last year; its platform has already attracted more than 400 outside developers

Founder and CEO: Rune Christensen, 29, founded Try China while still in college, to bring English teachers to China


Headquarters: New York City

Digital bank targeting $50,000-income families provides free checking, debit cards, paycheck advances (with direct deposit) and managed ETF portfolios. Paid membership (currently $19.99 a month) adds cash-back loyalty programs, free credit score access and loans designed to build up users’ credit scores.  

Funding: $207 million from Edison Partners, Greenspring Associates, Fintech Collective; latest valuation of $630 million

Bona fides: More than 6 million users

Cofounders: CEO Dee Choubey, 38, a former Wall Street investment banker; CIO Pratyush Tiwari, 43; CTO Chee Mun Foong, 42

Next Insurance

Headquarters: Palo Alto, California

Mobile-first insurance carrier, which started as an agency, specializes in small business lines—general liability, professional liability, commercial auto and worker’s compensation—sold in packages tailored to specific businesses (e.g. personal trainer, contractor, restaurant). Sells in all states except New York and is a licensed carrier in 26 of them.

Funding:  $381 million from Munich Re, TLV Ventures, Ribbit Capital and others; latest valuation of more than $1 billion

Bona fides: Serves 79,000 small businesses; gross written premiums, as of August, running at a $77 million annual rate

Cofounders: CEO Guy Goldstein, 52, CTO Alon Huri, 43 and VP R&D Nissim Tapiro, 49


Headquarters: New York City

Enables third-party sellers and hosts on marketplaces like Amazon, and Airbnb to accept payments in foreign currencies. Last year, Payoneer also started lending to Amazon and Walmart sellers, using its visibility into their sales to help assess risk, and has already extended hundreds of millions in loans to tens of thousands of customers.

Funding: $270 million from TCV, Susquehanna Growth Equity, Viola Ventures and others; latest valuation of $1 billion*

Bona fides: Four million customers, including Airbnb and Google, spread across 150 countries; profitable with net margins north of 5%

Founder: President Yuval Tal, 54, who previously founded and took public ecommerce software company Borderfree

Current CEO: Scott Galit, 49, who did stints at First Data and MasterCard


Headquarters: San Francisco

For a 2.5% fee, lets small businesses use a credit card to pay for expenses, such as rent, inventory and contractors, for which cards usually aren’t accepted. Typical clients are restaurants, doctors offices and construction companies.  

Funding: $140 million from Kleiner Perkins, B-Capital Group, Khosla Ventures and others; latest valuation of $700 - $800 million

Bona fides: More than 50,000 small business customers; now processing nearly $4 billion in transactions a year

Cofounder and CEO: Eliot Buchanan, 30, started Plastiq immediately upon graduating from Harvard in 2012—and after his attempt to pay for tuition with a credit card had been rejected


Headquarters: New York City

Its Fresh EBT mobile app allows food stamp recipients to check their balances without having to call an 800-number. It also allows them to electronically clip store coupons, search job postings and connect to social services. A Harvard Business School case study found users of the app stretched their food stamps a day longer each month.  

Funding: $18 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Nyca Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant and others; latest valuation of $55 million*

Bona fides: In 2019, doubled its users to two million

Founder & CEO: Jimmy Chen, 32, who left a cushy job as a product manager at Facebook to start Propel

States Title

Headquarters: San Francisco

Title searches have traditionally held up the real estate closing process. But using online ownership data and predictive analytics, States Title can clear 80% of homes for insurance in less than a minute, instead of days, allowing for faster—and potentially cheaper—closings.

Funding: $107 million from Lennar, Fifth Wall, Foundation Capital and others

Bona fides: Revenue went from almost nothing in 2018 to $185 million last year, after it took over part of home-builder Lennar’s title business

Cofounder and CEO: Max Simkoff, 38, started an HR analytics company at 25, sold it for $42 million at 33


Headquarters: San Francisco

Credit card debt consolidation and payoff app extends a line of credit (at a lower-than-credit-card interest rate) to customers and applies their monthly payment to their existing credit card debts, avoiding late fees and paying off highest interest rate balances first.

Funding: $92 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Shasta Ventures and others; latest valuation of $285 million*

Bona fides: Boasts a 99% retention rate for users; increased revenue fourfold in the past year

Cofounders: CEO Jason Brown, 40, and board member Jasper Platz, 40. The two MBA  classmates at University of Chicago, Booth, first cofounded a solar finance company in 2009 which was later acquired


Headquarters: San Francisco

From its online platform, Unison offers home buyers and owners in 30 states and Washington, D.C. the option of selling some of the future appreciation in their houses. In exchange for 10% of a home’s purchase price (which is used as a partial down payment), Unison and its institutional investors take 33% of the appreciation when the house is sold.

Funding: $40 million from Citi Ventures, F-Prime Capital Partners, The Royal Bank of Canada and others

Bona fides: Unison has purchased stakes in $4.4 billion worth of housing and is the leader in the fledgling “co-investing” market

Founder and CEO: Thomas Sponholtz, 53, managed a $28 billion residential mortgage portfolio at Barclays Global Investors

*Source: PitchBook

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