After four full quarters of Covid-19, some sectors have withered, while others have expanded. One sector that was growing before Covid and is still expanding is fintech.
In 2018, of the $254 billion in total global capital invested during the year, $128 billion (slightly more than half) was invested in the fintech sector alone. And in 2020, the market share across 48 fintech unicorns (more on unicorns below) surpassed $187 billion. In other words, investors around the world are betting heavily on the fintech sector to grow and thrive. That means fintech presents many opportunities for job seekers in the coming years.
What is fintech?
A contraction of “financial” and “technology,” fintech refers to the financial infrastructure (and accompanying companies and services) that many people use almost daily. Fintech’s emergence could be traced to the introduction of the telegraph in 1838, then to the first transatlantic cable in 1886, and, more recently, to the introduction of the first ATM installed in 1967 (at a Barclay’s bank). By 1971, there were 1,000 ATMs installed globally. Today, there are 3 million ATMs worldwide. But we now do most of our banking on our smartphones—thanks to fintech companies and fintech infrastructure.
The fintech unicorn—an un-endangered species
A unicorn is a startup company with a more than a $1 billion market valuation. According to an updated database from CB Insights, there are currently 600 unicorns around the world, 94 of which are fintech companies, second only to a broad category of internet software and services companies.
CB Insights went further and used predictive analytics to scan the global market to compile a list of 50 future unicorns, companies it expects to reach valuations of $1 billion or more. Of those 50, 20 percent were operating in the fintech space. This again puts fintech in second place, just behind enterprise/big data tools (30 percent) and just ahead of both healthcare and hardware (8 percent each).
Are unicorns getting faster?
Back in 2016, there were 25 unicorns in the fintech space, and the average unicorn took six years to break the $1 billion ceiling. Square surpassed $1 billion only two years after its inception; Brex, a credit card company built for startups, did it in less.
The pace is shocking, but it’s a pace the sector is expected to maintain. Fueled by technological advancement, fintech services often see the same exponential growth rate that’s common in tech-based fields. Market demand has been unwavering; there’s a well-established and widespread appetite for local financial solutions among consumers and business alike. And many large financial corporations, unable to avoid the industry disruption, have instead joined as investors. In the first 14 days of 2021, a total of $1.7 billion in fintech startup funding was announced, making it an exciting time to be a young professional in the fintech space.
Disruptors positioned for post-Covid gains
Here are three fintech disruptors that are thriving—and hiring.
OpenPath is changing the way we think about payments. The accelerated adoption of e-commerce and mobile payments has been supported by new tech solutions, while the legacy e-payment industry relies on outdated tools. As a result, the industry as it stands is fractured, and full of disparate vendors that can’t work in combination. Merchants face the impossible task of integrating the products and data they need, and processors are siloed, unable to maintain access to every solution for their consumers. OpenPath is a tech-first solution that bridges the gap. Identified by Bain as the “clear leader in the space,” OpenPath provides an intelligent platform for transactions, helping merchants and processors achieve universal connectivity, maximize processing capacity and acceptance, analyze complex risk, and extend the life of merchant accounts.
Portag3 Ventures is finding tomorrow’s transformative technologies. Fintech has grown into a field of its own, attracting investor dollars and professional money management. Working for one of those managers is the best way to keep a pulse on progress and spot soon-to-be household names from a front row seat. Portag3 Ventures is a venture capital firm focused solely on fintech companies that are positioned for global impact. With a presence in Toronto, New York, Europe, and Southeast Asia, Portag3 makes early-stage investments in tomorrow’s solutions. The Portag3 team is passionate about finding the big thinkers, supporting them through venture funding, industry intelligence, and operational expertise.
Haüskey is reimagining the home-buying experience. As residential real estate undergoes a massively accelerated digital uptake, Haüskey is quickly becoming a market leader in the property technology space. Haüskey is designed for consumers and investors who want a personalized, transparent, and cost-effective purchase experience. The only end-to-end solution of its kind, Haüskey supports the demand for digital purchasing and simplifies digital brokerage with an easy to use platform that offers huge economic upside to consumers and developers alike. Its in-house website helps customers find and buy construction properties without the sunk cost of exorbitant brokerage fees, and its proprietary data platform delivers partner developers to an increased velocity of sales. Gone are the days of multi-stage transactions—Haüskey is winning the digital race in new construction real estate.
A final note
As the exponential curve of change and growth continues, fintech is full of opportunities for early-career professionals and new-to-workforce individuals to make an impact and take active roles in this inevitable transformation. The amount of time elapsed between startup and hypergrowth is at an all-time low, and backed by venture capital, new vendors are challenging, improving, and re-imagining financial solutions. Things are moving fast—and fintech is keeping pace.
Ken McCord is the Co-Founder of Red Jacket, a boutique trading and M&A firm. Previously the President of Horizon Beta Pro, Ken is an early-stage investor with over 25 years of experience in the financial industry.
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