Many of the startups on Forbes’ sixth Fintech 50 list were big pandemic winners, as Americans sped up their migration to buying and banking online and some of those stuck at home jumped into online trading of stocks and crypto. At the same time, low interest rates and the search for more work-from-home space sparked a mortgage rush—and a bonanza for the likes of Blend, which provides cloud-based software to a good chunk of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders.
There are 20 first-timers on our 2021 list; founders of five other newcomers—involved in everything from cyber risk insurance to financial inclusion—are profiled below.
To qualify for the Fintech 50, startups must have either headquarters or substantial operations in the U.S. and be private as of the date of publication. A record seven honorees on 2020’s list “graduated” by going public. Most notably, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, a list member since 2016, debuted on NASDAQ this past April in the largest direct listing ever.
Meanwhile, valuations of some startups still on the list have surged (#1 Stripe is worth $95 billion, up from $35 billion last year), and several are likely to go public soon, either through IPOs or SPAC deals.
Marqeta, a specialty debit card processor on the 2021 list, is expected to kick off the new round of departures this week when it starts trading on the NASDAQ. With record amounts of money flooding into fintech startups during the first quarter of this year, there will be plenty of worthy candidates to take its place next year.