The possibilities of technology to disrupt every aspect of the financial services industry are significant, and startups born in digital are increasingly outmaneuvering banks to cater for the changing habits of the population - millennials in particular - when it comes to conducting transactions, investing and raising money, and saving funds. Here, we’ve looked at 5 companies leading the way.
Funding Circle's online platform facilitates loans from savers directly to small businesses - removing the banks from the process. Since it launched in 2010, almost $2 billion worth of loans have been financed on the platform, and it is already the third-largest net lender to small businesses in the UK after RBS and Lloyds Banking Group, according to Bank of England statistics for the third quarter of 2015.
One of Funding Circle's founder Samir Desai explained: ’We will always be able to lend to more businesses than the banks because banks have very high capital requirements when lending to small businesses, especially riskier small businesses. Also, banks are managing portfolios. There may be good businesses they should lend to but they just don’t because maybe they've tapped out on lending to that particular sector.’ Desai continues: ‘As we get better and better at our data we can accept more and more businesses. It’s a virtuous funding circle if you want. We have more data, which means we can accept more businesses, which means we can spend more money on marketing, which means we can get more businesses, which means we have more data. It’s a very powerful mechanism versus the banks.’
The peer-to-peer lending platform has also recently hired Deutsche Bank to launch its first securitization, as it moves into capital markets for funding.
Chinese fintech company Ant Financial, formally known as Alipay, run an Alibaba-affiliate payments platform. It is estimated to account for 58% of all online payments in China according to the Financial Times, and they themselves claim that its core offering Alipay reaches 450 million users. It also operates a money-market fund called Yu’e Bao and an online bank called MYbank.
This success has seen it close the biggest private tech funding round of all time, netting a huge $4.8 billion, in a giant Series B round that values the tech company at $US60 billion. Ant Financial is already investing heavily in the Indian market, most notably in Paytm, in an indicator of its future business strategy, and should soon launch an IPO.
Robinhood is an app that allows anyone to buy and sell US shares for free - cutting out the traditional commission and trading fees that brokers charge. Robinhood has raised $66 million from investors that include Europe's Index Ventures, Google Ventures, and well-known Silicon Valley fund Andreessen Horowitz.
Jan Hammer, a partner at Index Ventures who led the Robinhood investment, explained: ‘From the time of our Seed investment in 2013, Robinhood has continued to impress us with the quality of their product and the pace of growth. They’ve not just made trading simpler, mobile and free, but by doing so, they’ve opened up stock trading to a generation of Millennials who have largely stayed clear of the stock market.’
Stripe is an online and in-app payment platform with a clean Application Programming customer interface that is more developer-friendly way. It enables payments to be accepted online and in mobile apps send directly to your bank accounts from a range of local and international cards. In its last funding round in July 2015, it was valued at $5 billion. Stripe aims to expand internet commerce by making it easy to process transactions and manage an online business, and processes billions of dollars a year for thousands of businesses of all sizes.
Digital-only bank, Atom, drew interest last November when Spanish banking group BBVA invested £45 million, and it is already worth £150 million, despite having no useable product at the current time. Earlier last month, it officially launched its iPhone and iPad app — the only way you'll be able to interact with the new bank - so that customers can gain an understanding of what they will offer. These include voice and face biometrics for login, and plans to introduce a full range of banking services, all without any physical branches, by the end of the year. They’re to be joined by a number of others, including Mondo, which should see the market saturated. Many are likely to fall short, but Atom is definitely well placed for success.
Atom’s Founder and Chairman Anthony Thomson says in the press release: ‘During 2016, Atom will be unveiling a further range of products and continuous App enhancements, with a phased roll-out of services throughout the year. By the end of 2016, customers will have access to fixed savings, current accounts, overdrafts, debit and credit cards, instant access savings and residential mortgages, all serviced via the App.’