Financial technology (fintech) companies are seizing opportunities in the aftermath of the global financial crisis (GFC) that occurred between 2007 and 2008. Traditional financial companies such as banks and wealth management firms are struggling to return to pre-GFC profitability due to a heightened regulatory environment, but emerging fintech companies, not hampered by the same stringent compliance issues, are flourishing.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) estimates that fintech companies displace $4.7 trillion in revenue from traditional financial firms. Global investment in fintech ventures for the first quarter of 2016 topped $5.3 billion, an impressive 67% increase over the same period in 2015. Not surprisingly, many emerging fintech startups and companies are based in or near San Francisco, and are likely attracted to the area’s plethora of programmers, designers, innovative thinkers and venture capitalists.
Explore the following four emerging fintech companies with headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Stripe, founded in 2010, is a payments company that gives individuals and businesses a developer-friendly way of processing services for online and mobile transactions. The company differentiates itself by allowing customers to efficiently process payments in more than 140 currencies, bank transfers, bitcoin and Alipay on their mobile websites. Stripe uses innovative functionality such as providing in-application "buy" buttons that enhance the customer’s experience by allowing instant purchases. Stripe received its initial startup funding from seed accelerator, Y Combinator. Stripe was later backed by venture capitalists Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, as well as PayPal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) co-founders Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Max Levchin.
Bill Clerico and Rich Aberman founded WePay in 2008, inspired by the need to collect money from friends for a bachelor party. Aberman realized the need for a more efficient way to collect money from a group of people. The company processes online credit card payments for various crowdfunding platforms, such as GoFundMe and CrowdRise. As of July 2016, WePay charged a 2.9% fee as well as 30 cents per transaction. WePay, like Stripe, received seed funding through Y Combinator that resulted in the company relocating from Boston to San Francisco. A cumulative total of $9 million was subsequently raised from Augusta Capital and Highland Capital, which was used for establishing offices and developing business strategies. The company has approximately 100 employees.
Coinbase began in 2012, founded by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. The company allows businesses and consumers to buy, use and receive the bitcoin currency. As of 2016, Coinbase had over 1.5 million customers in 19 countries, which results in a large number of transactions being executed on a daily basis. The company has earned the trust of consumers through its use of cutting-edge technology that makes erroneous transactions virtually nonexistent. Customers are not charged a fee to accept bitcoin; converting bitcoin to a local currency is free for up to $1 million. However, a 1% fee is administered above this amount. As of 2016, Coinbase had raised $75 million, backed by high-profile investors that include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), United Services Automobile Association (USAA), Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. (NYSE: BBVA) and NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM).
Lendup is building its reputation by providing quick and convenient online-only payday loans. Founded in 2012, the company positions itself as a viable alternative to traditional payday loans. LendUp is attempting to lure repeat customers by providing lower rates, higher loan amounts and enticing reward programs, compared to its competitors. As of July 2015, short-term loans were available up to $250 and longer-term loans were available up to $1,000. The company charges a $50 or 5% administration fee; whichever costs less. LendUp is funded by a group of investors that include the Start Fund, Bronze Investments, Thornvest Ventures, Google Ventures and Andreesen Horowitz.