Fintech is a fast-changing industry with new developments, ideas, and innovation every day. Nowhere is this more evident than in NYC at the intersection of Silicon Alley and Wall Street.
BANKS AND LARGE FINANCIAL CORPORATES INVESTING IN STARTUPS
When it comes to true innovation, it’s not the big corporates and banks leading the way. Only recently have these bigger players realized that collaborating with entrepreneurs and startups allows them to support innovation in a way that their company traditionally could not. Startups can take more risks and move at a faster pace than larger companies, in addition to being able to attract from a very different talent pool than corporates and banks have access to. To make startup partnerships even easier, many financial institutions are launching specific fintech VC funds to invest in startups.
According to “The Rise of Fintech,” a report released last year by Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City, the number of bank-sponsored fintech VC funds is growing quickly, with banks such as multi-national banking group BBVA and Capital One launching funds within the last two years.
Financial institutions are also bridging the gap between corporates and startups by opening fintech incubators and accelerators to directly foster new ideas and solutions in banking. Barclays teamed up with TechStars to open a fintech incubator in NYC this July, while New York-based Citigroup is expanding outward with a recently launched fintech accelerator in Tel Aviv.
Banks and corporates are keeping startups close at hand – perhaps out of wariness. Startups in the following industries are disrupting the financial services industry in a big way.
LENDING: HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS
Peer to peer and online lending ventures are taking on the consumer banking industry. Up until only recently, lending was entirely controlled by the banks which determined non-negotiable set interest rates, determined approval, and loan terms. That’s all changing with the arrival of lending-focused startups. These startups enable small businesses to be approved for loans quickly and easily, with much lower interest rates than banks provide. In turn, investors can easily create safe portfolios online.
Lending Club and Prosper, both of which have been hugely successful in facilitating loans for small businesses and individuals, are two of the biggest examples in this space. Lending Club, an online marketplace, facilitates personal and business loans, as well as medical patient financing. Prosper provides a similar service as a peer to peer lending marketplace, where borrowers post the amount they need andwhat their intent is, and investors create a portfolio from these listings.
The success of these lending ventures can easily be measured—last December Lending Club had their IPO while Prosper was recently valued at $1.9 billion after closing a $165 million dollar round of financing. Together they have facilitated over $10 billion in loans.
CROWDFUNDING IS ON THE RISE
Also in the business of raising money while cutting out the middle-man are crowdfunding platforms where people—and increasingly, startups—raise money through online campaigns. While crowdfunding in its current state is only a decade old, the industry has become integral to funding not only startups and one-off projects, but also individual product launches from larger companies, such as Sony.
Crowdfunding platforms still largely focus on giving money to receive a reward or perk, but “equity crowdfunding,” which allows private companies to sell stock to individuals, has been on the rise. Until recently this form of funding was highly limited; however, a change in federal legislation this March lifted limitations and opened this form of funding to businesses of all sizes.
Though it is still facing some challenges, such as intellectual property protection, crowdfunding is on track to continue disrupting the financial industry for the foreseeable future.
BIG DATA TRANSLATING INTO EASIER INVESTING
Last but certainly not least is big data, the undercurrent running through the entire financial services industry. Innovative companies have recognized and are seizing the opportunity to capitalize on the availability of data and are taking the wealth of fragmented and inaccessible information online and making it useful for financial professionals and the individual consumer.
One of the biggest companies directly involved in analyzing big data is Dataminr, which uses algorithms to extract data from social media, stock, and other feeds to provide valuable information for financial institutions and individuals. They recently received $130 million in Series D funding, largely due to participation from the financial sector.
Another New York based success story, StockTwits, compiles data specifically for investors, providing a social feed solely focused on finance. “We pride ourselves on helping the retail investor community that’s extremely underserved; basically we wanted to create a place where financial transparency was as clean and as concise as possible,” said Pierce Crosby, Director of Business Development at StockTwits.
These are just a few of the ways that fintech startups are shaking up the seemingly set-in-stone financial world. No matter how they’re doing it, they share a common goal in making our money-centered decisions and transactions easier and cheaper than ever before. It’s safe to say that this is only the beginning.