The Top Fintech Startups of 2017 for African Entrepreneurs to Take Note

The Top Fintech Startups of 2017 for African Entrepreneurs to Take Note

The world of fintech is universal. Do not think because you are in Burundi that your competitors have to be localized in your country. No, finance is a global business and you have to understand the big players, locally and internationally, to architect the right strategy.

They are the ones that will determine how you will perform because this is a game of dog eats dog. If they sign-up the customer, that customer is gone. There will be winners and losers.

The old Paypal is still alive. IBM Blockchain is emerging. But here we have focused on startups leaving the old guards out of it. But that does not mean the old guards are not relevant. They are. Why? If IBM succeeds in making Dubail a Blockchain nation, most of the startups we have listed below will die because IBM will morph them as it expands globally. What is happening in Dubai now is an existential threat and a disruption at a scale you may not imagine. Dubai may not need banks in the future and IBM Blockchain will become the financial grid.

Here are the fintech players after we explain what we mean by fintech in this piece.

Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century. Originally, the term applied to technology applied to the back-end of established consumer and trade financial institutions. Since the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the term has expanded to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.

  1. Activehours develops a smartphone-based application that enables hourly workers to get paid early when they need it. It works on both Android and iOS smartphones and is recommended for hourly employees with an electronic timecard system at work and a direct deposit. .
  2. Lemonade Insurance Company is a licensed insurance carrier, offering homeowners and renters insurance powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics. By replacing brokers and bureaucracy with bots and machine learning, Lemonade promises zero paperwork and instant everything. And as a Certified B-Corp, where underwriting profits go to nonprofits, Lemonade is remaking insurance as a social good, rather than a necessary evil.
  3. Flutterwave provides technology, infrastructure and services to enable global merchants, payment service providers and Pan African banks accept and process payments on any channel (Web, Mobile, ATM & POS). We help businesses in africa go global by smoothening the exchange of funds in 150+ currencies.
  4. Addepar  – Cloud-based software allows wealth managers to track and analyze all of a client’s holdings and automates bringing new ones on board.
  5.  Affirm  Makes instant point-of-sale loans for online purchases at annual interest rates of 10% to 30%. Some merchants subsidize 0% loans. To help Millennial customers build credit histories, it recently started reporting loan-repayment history to credit bureaus.
  6. AlphaSense  Contextualized algorithms give investors the ability to search across millions of documents with a few clicks, dramatically reducing research times.
  7. Paystack lets businesses accept payments via credit card, debit card, money transfer and mobile money on their websites or mobile apps.
  8. Aztec Exchange Finances receivables for developing-world suppliers based on strength of their U.S. corporate buyers.
  9.  Betterment  Robo-advisor manages ETF portfolios to fit investors’ goals and risk tolerance, for a sliding fee, usually 0.25% of assets a year. Recently launched managed 401(k) product.
  10.  Cadre   Invitation-only platform that cuts out middlemen and lowers fees for high-net-worth and institutional buyers of shares of commercial and multifamily properties.
  11. C2FO  Fairway Uses algorithms and bids to match retailers and manfacturers sitting on extra cash with suppliers ready to accept discounts for payment within 48 hours.
  12. Chain Blockchain infrastructure provider. Helped develop first-ever blockchain-based product with a financial services incumbent, Nasdaq Linq, for trading shares in private companies. Visa is using Chain’s blockchain infrastructure for B2B Connect, an international payments system for business set to launch in 2017.
  13.  CircleUp  Crowdfunding site connects entrepreneurs behind new consumer products with potential distributors and financial backers. Recently launched a new “Classifier” tool that uses 90,000 data points to help investors evaluate a company.
  14.  Coinbase A rare cryptocurrency firm that is fully compliant with government regulations and has top-notch -security, Coinbase operates both a professional trading platform, Global Digital Asset Exchange, and a retail operation that maintains cryptocurrency -“wallets” for 4.7 million customers from 33 countries, who use these accounts to spend (or simply hold) bitcoin and “ether,” another digital currency.
  15.  Credit Karma Offers consumers free credit scores and monitoring plus recommendations for credit cards and loans, providing streamlined applications for them. Site will soon add access to mortgage comparison and Goldman Sachs’ new consumer-lending platform.
  16.  Dataminr  Uses machine learning to sift through Twitter and other public data to identify, and send alerts on, market-moving events.
  17.  Digital Reasoning Originally sold machine-learning software to the U.S. Army so it could scan text communications in Afghanistan for intelligence and threats to troops. Now Digital Reasoning’s Synthesys technology is used by top financial firms to screen their employees’ e-mail, instant messages and phone conversations for signs of insider trading and other misconduct.
  18.  DV01 New  Allows investors to track performance of peer-to-peer loans from nine originators, down to the loan level, in a matter of clicks.
  19.  Earnest   Has made more than $1 billion in personal loans and student loans, thanks to novel underwriting (it crunches up to 100,000 data points) and a feature allowing users to set repayment schedules to match their budgets.
  20.  EarnUp Service links to customers’ bank accounts and tracks income and expenses, making micropayments toward debt whenever the customer can -afford it. EarnUp figures it will save users an average of $22,000 in interest over the life of a mortgage and $4,000 on student loans. Company changed its name from APAsave after research conducted with famed behavioral economist Dan Ariely found that people prefer “earning” to “saving.” The product is free to borrowers; loan servicers pay EarnUp, since it cuts their cost of dealing with late and missed payments.
  21. Ellevest   Second-generation robo-advisor site designed for, and largely by, women. For a 0.5% of assets annual fee (twice what Betterment typically charges), clients get personalized portfolios of ETFs, with automatic contributions, rebalancing and asset allocation based on goals. Elegantly simple site design excludes traditional risk-tolerance questionnaires, which Ellevest argues don’t provide useful results.
  22.  Fundbox  San Francisco Helps small businesses deal with cash-flow problems created by the typical 90-day terms by linking to their Quickbooks or Freshbooks accounts and providing advances of up to $100,000 against invoices of their choosing.
  23.  Fundera Helps small-business owners compare and apply for everything from term loans to business credit cards.
  24.  Funding  Circle International marketplace small-business lender automates much of the application process, but unlike some competitors, still relies on humans to make final underwriting decision. About 25% of its new loans are made to U.S. borrowers, at rates of 5.5% to 28%.
  25.  Fundrise  While most real estate crowdfunding sites require clients to be wealthier “accredited” investors, Fundrise exploits a 2015 SEC rule to form “eReits” available to anyone ready to plunk down $1,000. So far, 10,000-plus investors have put $99 million into five eReits.
  26.  Gusto  Cloud-based software helps smaller businesses, most with under 100 employees, administer payroll and payroll taxes, health insurance and 401(k) plans.
  27. IEX Stock-trading venue uses 38 miles of cable, coiled up in a box, to create “speed bump” that levels playing field between high-frequency traders and other investors.
  28.  Kabbage  Automated lending platform offers lines of credit for small businesses–at a stiff price. Daily underwriting means line limits and rates can change monthly. Platform now being licensed to banks, too.
  29.  Kensho Uses huge historic database and machine learning to analyze how a specific event–from a natural disaster to an election result–might affect markets, presenting results in an easy-to-digest knowledge graph.
  30.  Klarna Allows shoppers (mostly in Europe) to check out at 65,000 merchants with just an e-mail and address and pay after delivery–pay within a grace period and it’s interest-free.
  31.  Metromile Offers novel pricing that combines a low, flat monthly fee with a charge per mile driven, tracked by a device plugged into a car’s diagnostic system. Metromile says this saves city dwellers, retirees and others who drive little an average of $500 a year. After acquiring a traditional insurer, the company is now underwriting and processing claims in house and plotting expansion -beyond its current seven states.
  32.  Motif Investing Allows individual investors to design, share and buy baskets (Motifs) of up to 30 stocks for $9.95 a transaction. In nod to robo-craze, recently launched auto-investment service Motif Blue.
  33. Next-generation hedge fund runs online competition in which anonymous data scientists (using encrypted data sets) create machine-learning models to predict stock market moves. Hedge fund uses top models, paying winners in bitcoin.
  34.  Orchard Platform Aims to create secondary marketplace for peer-to-peer loans; already validates performance data from the sector’s biggest originators.
  35.  Personal Capital  A “robo-hybrid” advisor offering 10,000 paying customers a combination of computerized portfolio management and human financial advice (available by phone, e-mail and video) for 0.89% of assets a year on the first $1 million, with a minimum investment of $25,000. For larger taxable accounts it creates portfolios of individual stocks that mimic an index fund, thus maximizing tax-loss harvesting opportunities. Personal Capital has a pipeline of prospects: 1.2 million people use its free tools to track investment returns on $270 billion in wealth.
  36. Plaid Its tools connect other firms to users’ bank-account information, making it possible to transfer funds, track spending and detect fraud.
  37.  Point  Liquidity provider for homeowners. Invests in their equity, sharing in profit (or loss) when house is sold. Sells the equity to institutional investors looking for real estate exposure.
  38.  Qapital App helps Millennial users curb spending and squirrel away an average of $160 a month with personal triggers, e.g., transfers $5 to savings after every “guilty pleasure” charge for GrubHub or Uber.
  39.  Quantopian  Crowdsourced quantitative-investing platform. DIY quants create investing algorithms using site’s data and research. Best performers are licensed for a 10% cut of profits.
  40.  Ripple Aims to establish a global financial-settlements network, with cross-border payments available instantly, built on a digital-currency platform.
  41.  Riskalyze  Software helps financial advisors analyze clients’ risk exposure and construct suitable portfolios; also offers a new robo-platform for advisors who prefer to leave asset allocation to the computers.
  42.  Robinhood Mobile app offering free basic stock trading, or $10 a month “Gold” service with margin loans, extended trading hours and quicker access to stock-sale proceeds.
  43.  Signifyd  For under 1% up to 4% of an online merchant’s sales, Signifyd and its algorithms take over fraud protection, assuming liability for any bogus charges that slip through.
  44.  SoFi  SoFi (short for Social Finance) started as a student-loan refinancer. Now also offering jumbo mortgages, robo-investing and a service that enables employers to help pay workers’ student debt.
  45.  Stripe  Its plug-ins make taking online payments easier.
  46.  Symphony  For $15 a month per user this “Bloomberg killer” provides a secure environment for messaging, apps and video-conferencing, as well as connection to Selerity Context, Money.Net, FactSet, Dow Jones and other apps.
  47.  Tala  Microlender and mobile app that crunches 10,000 data points gleaned from an applicant’s smartphone, including purchases, Web searches and social media use, to approve $10 to $500 loans for developing-world borrowers who lack credit scores.
  48.  TransferWise  Peer-to-peer app for moving money around the world has software that matches unrelated customers’ orders to limit how much currency actually crosses borders. Aims to undercut bank charges by 80%.
  49. TrueAccord  Employs machine-learning algorithms to collect bad debts using texts, e-mails and fewer but friendlier phone calls than traditional collection agencies.
  50.  Trumid  Alternative electronic-trading platform enables bond trading at a fraction of the cost of traditional banks, while allowing users to negotiate trades anonymously.
  51.  Xapo  Stores Bitcoin on offline servers for wealthy Western investors; processes mobile bitcoin transactions for consumers in developing world.
  52. Xignite  Supplier of real-time market data.
  53.  ZestFinance  Uses big data–100,000 signals, many unconventional–to underwrite loans to borrowers with thin credit histories or low credit scores.

(Sources: Crunchbase, Forbes, Fortune, Tekedia)


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