Fintech solutions are changing the way we live and work in 2021 and, maybe most importantly, the way we engage with our finances. These tech-based financial products are constantly disrupting, evolving, and eventually becoming widely accepted and used by both the public at large and many financial institutions.
In 2021, Fintech has become such a large part of our lives that many people, especially younger ones, take it for granted. There was a time, though, before Fintech solutions that are now very popular were well-known. Then, at some point, a Fintech solution came along, disrupted the financial status quo, and changed the industry.
You can point to quite a few examples of Fintech solutions that followed this path. A smaller number have truly changed the game and created a solution that was so good, so needed, and so in the right place at the right time that they pushed the entire Fintech world forward. Here are five Fintech solutions that changed the industry.
In 2021, one of the best-known Fintech solutions is PayPal. It is the most popular and most highly-regarded digital wallet around. It even owns arguably the second-most popular digital wallet, Venmo. This wasn’t always the case, though. Before it changed the Fintech industry, PayPal was a little-known payment app that wasn’t even called PayPal.
When this Fintech company started in 1998, the idea was to partner with online retail outlets so they could accept digital payments in addition to traditional pay-by-mail methods. The company was initially known as Confinity and started by partnering with eBay. By 2006, this Fintech solution for online payments had sold to eBay for $1.5 billion and had over 100 million users. Two decades later, PayPal is a Fortune 500 company that has facilitated billions of dollars in transactions.
A person’s credit used to be some kind of unknowable, almost mystical number that determined whether you could have a credit card, lease a car, or buy a home. That changed in 2008 when tech entrepreneur Kenneth Lin launched Credit Karma. This Fintech solution allowed people to check their credit for free, without a credit inquiry that dropped their score. This changed the industry by allowing people to have more control over their credit and, in turn, their finances and paved the way for many more Fintech companies to come.
In addition to checking your credit score, Credit Karma also has tax prep and financial management features and will recommend the best credit cards for users. You can also dispute credit reports, look for unclaimed funds, and monitor your accounts for identity theft. This Fintech solution became so successful that in December of 2009, Intuit bought the company for more than $7 billion.
In the 21st century, we live in a global society. Business is conducted around the clock and around the globe. This environment calls for global Fintech solutions and TransferWise has answered this call. TransferWise is the successor to PayPal in that it is a money transfer service that you can access from around the world. You can travel and use TransferWise to avoid worry about banks or exchange rates or when doing business with people or organizations in other countries and get paid in your currency.
This seems like a logical next step but, when TransferWise first started in 2011, it was unique. The Fintech solution was so revolutionary at the time that the company was named among the most innovative Fintech companies in the world according to multiple lists including CNBC’s list of 50 disruptors in 2015. Just six years later, the company, which has long-spurned an IPO is now planning a public offering this year.
At times, banks are helped by Fintech solutions but in other situations they may be replaced by one. That is what SoFi aims to do. Short for Social Finance, Inc., SoFi does everything a traditional commercial bank can do for you, except provide a physical location for you to visit. SoFi offers bank accounts as well as mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, and more. The only difference between SoFi and say, Bank of America or Chase is that everything is done either through a mobile app or browser.
The company was started in San Francisco as a response to growing student loan debt. Stanford University alumni committed $2 million in student loans to Stanford students and the rest is Fintech history. The company focused on the user instead of the physical trappings of a bank; that’s why they have been so successful. Liventus notes that a user-centric approach is fundamental to the best Fintech solutions. Today, the company is valued at north of $9 billion as it prepares to go public in 2021.
You don’t have to be up on all the latest Fintech trends to have heard about Robinhood in the news in 2021. This stock trading app has disrupted the Fintech world and the financial world as well in the last few years. It offers commission-free trading to its 13 million users and has democratized stick trading for the masses. It has changed the industry in the same ways that the other companies on this list have but they also may change it in other, less positive ways.
Lately, Robinhood has been involved in several controversies including the GameStop short squeeze which has dominated both financial and Fintech news in 2021. This has put a spotlight on many actions Robinhood has taken in its growth phase that may be harmful practices. This includes allowing novice traders to rack up huge debts, selling trading info to high-volume traders, and allegedly participating in market manipulation to protect hedge funds during this latest fiasco. All this may change the way the public, investors, and the government look at and treat Fintech startups in the future.
These five Fintech legends are just a few of the solutions and companies that have disrupted, revolutionized, and changed the industry. PayPal, Credit Karma, TransferWise, SoFi, and Robinhood are just a few of the biggest Fintech visionaries. There will certainly be more in the future and it will be exciting to see where they come from and what they accomplish.