The world of financial technology (fintech) has changed the way we buy products, move money and live our daily lives. Keeping your finger on the pulse of how the fintech landscape can help guide your investment. Who better to learn from than the influencers who dominate the industry? Let’s take a look at a few of the youngest fintech influencers whose products and companies change the world.
1. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum
Vitaly Dmitriyevich “Vitalik” Buterin is a programmer best known for creating the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Introduced in 2014, Ethereum (and its widely traded coin, Ether) is an open-source blockchain project that allows users to build decentralized applications. These “DApps” have been put into use in a wide range of industries, including gaming, gambling and banking.
The value of Ethereum has soared by more than 130% in 2021 alone, as investors and developers explore the cryptocurrency’s potential in the realm of decentralized finance. Ethereum currently has a total market capitalization of more than $215 billion and with the recent launch of Ethereum’s EIP 1559 upgrade, it’s possible that investors could see even more explosive growth from the coin in the future.
2. Patrick Collison, Stripe
As the 32-year-old mastermind behind Stripe, Patrick Collison has already solidified his fintech legacy. It appears that he has no plans to slow down in the future. Stripe is an American-Irish software as a service (SaaS) company innovating the way that users make online payments. Small business owners use Stripe to process payments more securely online and create their own application programming interfaces that they can integrate into their websites directly.
Source: JD Lasica via Wikimedia
Currently recognized as one of the main competitors to PayPal, Stripe has recently launched its own line of fraud-detection software called “Radar.” In 2020, Stripe had a turnover of about $2 trillion. Collison and his brother will work at the helm with a controlling majority should the company decide to take steps to go public.
3. Jon Stein, Betterment
Very few beginner investors can afford the assistance of a professional financial advisor. Jon Stein is the mind behind Betterment, a financial service provider offering affordable robo-advising services with low, accessible fees.
Getting started with Betterment involves answering a few questions about your age, financial goals and progress toward retirement. From here, Betterment’s robo-advising services create a custom mix of assets that match your risk tolerance level and long-term progress toward retirement. When you contribute to your portfolio, Betterment’s software automatically divides it between the assets curated in the portfolio so you can access assistance planning for your financial future.
4. Brian Armstrong, Coinbase
Brian Armstrong, another major innovator in the world of cryptocurrency investing, serves as chief executive of Coinbase, America’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency trading platform. One of the first innovators to introduce cryptocurrency to everyday investors, Coinbase quickly became known for its simple, user-friendly platform, which allows investors to buy and sell cryptocurrency with just a few clicks.
In addition to Coinbase’s standard platform intended for users looking for a straightforward buying experience, Coinbase has also introduced its Coinbase Pro platform for advanced users. Today, the digital currency exchange boasts more than 13 million users located in countries around the world. As its initial public offering (IPO) approaches, investors will hear more from Armstrong and Coinbase in the future.
5. Vladimir Tenev, Robinhood
It’s impossible to talk about the world of fee-free investing without mentioning Robinhood’s Vladimir Tenev. Best known for revolutionizing the world of online trading, Robinhood was one of the first companies to allow retail investors to buy and sell shares of stock without paying commissions to a broker.
Source: Robinhood via CNBC
Though Robinhood‘s initial product involved commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs, the financial service provider has expanded into a range of additional products, all commission-free. Users can now invest in stocks, options, funds and even cryptocurrencies with just a few taps on Robinhood’s mobile app or a click on its website. As more established brokers followed Robinhood and ditched trading fees to compete, Tenev changed the world of retail investing forever.
6. Sergey Nazarov, Chainlink
Another major innovator in the world of decentralized finance technology, Sergey Nazarov is the CEO of cryptocurrency startup Chainlink, a decentralized oracle solution. Chainlink provides open-source software for users to create tamper-proof inputs and outputs for smart contracts. This technology allows users to create interconnected smart contract networks that can “communicate” across blockchains.
Chainlink has seen a steady rise in value since March of 2020, with explosive growth in the project’s token price occurring in late 2020. Today, Chainlink is the 10th largest cryptocurrency project when measured by market cap, with a total market capitalization of more than $12.6 billion.
7. Catherine Coley, Binance.US
In an industry heavily dominated by men, Catherine Coley’s position as CEO of Binance’s United State branch is an impressive feat in and of itself. The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance chose former Morgan Stanley foreign exchange associate Catherine Coley to lead the Chinese exchange’s entry into the American crypto market. Even more impressive, Coley led the company through an 82% increase in its user base thanks to the new resurgence of investing interest in cryptocurrency.
Source: Catherine Coley
8. Cristina Junqueira, Nubank
After spending years working for the largest incumbent bank in Brazil, Cristina Junqueira quickly found herself frustrated with the outrageous fees charged to everyday investors for inexpensive money transfer services. Junqueira left her position to form Nubank, currently the largest banking startup in the world. With 25 million customers and a valuation of more than $10 billion, Nubank’s digital banking operation is one of the largest female-led financial technology innovations in the world.
Source: Christina Junqueira
9. Hayden Adams, Uniswap
Hayden Adams is another name that you need to know if you’re interested in cryptocurrency or decentralized application usage. Adams is the creator of Uniswap, a decentralized finance protocol that allows users to instantly “swap” Ether or ERC-20 tokens through the use of smart contract technology.
Source: Hayden Adams via Coindesk
After being granted $65,000 in funding, Adams has grown Uniswap to an approximate valuation of about $2 billion. The Uniswap token has seen an increase in value of more than 1,900% since its introduction less than a year ago. Uniswap is currently estimated to be the 4th largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, generating daily fee collections between $2 to $3 million.
10. Michele Romanow, Clearbanc
The youngest ever entrepreneur to join the cast of “Dragon’s Den” (the U.K.’s answer to the hit investing show “Shark Tank”), Michele Romanow is the millennial tech investor behind Clearbanc. Clearbanc offers small business owners a unique and innovative way to raise capital. Instead of searching for angel investors, startup companies that use Clearbanc can apply for funding online and receive funds directly through Clearbanc itself. Business owners then pay back the loan over time at a flat interest rate. To date, Clearbanc has paid out more than $1 billion in loans to young, budding startups.
11. Diogo Monica, Anchorage
Thanks to a new law that allows institutions like banks to hold cryptocurrency assets, Diogo Monica has received a surge of new attention at the onset of the new Bitcoin boom. Monica is the founder of Anchorage, a digital asset platform that provides custody, trading, staking and governance services for investors. In a fast-moving, fractional cryptocurrency market, demand for Anchorage’s services should grow throughout 2021 and beyond.
Source: Crowdfund Insider
12. Diana Avila, TransferWise
After moving from her home country of Colombia, Avila found herself frustrated trying to pay down her student loan debt. Though some methods could send money to Latin America, these services often came with high fees and unfair pricing — that is, before Avila joined money transfer company TransferWise.
Source: Innovate Finance
Under her role as the head of global banking and expansion at TransferWise, Avila was largely responsible for bringing affordable money transfer options to South America and beyond. In particular, she was one of the first banking services to cater to the Brazilian market — a notoriously underserved country when it comes to financial services. Under her direction, modern financial solutions have become more inclusive around the world.
13. Adena Hefets, Divvy Homes
With stagnant wages, high homeownership prices and strict credit policies, buying a home isn’t as easy as it used to be. Adena Hefets’ Divvy Homes intends to make the dream of homeownership easier by introducing the rent-to-own model to investors’ properties. After completing an application and being approved for a budget, Divvy Homes allows renters to put a portion of their rent money away to save for an eventual down payment later on.
Source: Divvy Homes
Though the startup idea might sound farfetched to some, investors have embraced the new innovation in real estate shopping. The company secured $110 million in Series C funding in February 2021.
14. Val Yap, PolicyPal
PolicyPal is Asia’s first insurance app that uses artificial intelligence to digitize insurance products. Users can browse insurance products and use chatbot support to find an insurance policy that fits the current needs of their family. Created by founder Val Yap, PolicyPal currently offers access to a wide range of insurance products, including everything from critical illness insurance to whole life insurance. The platform’s new MoneyBag feature has also recently introduced saving and investing features. Created after frustration with the insurance sphere of Asia, Yap continues to shape and introduce insurance technology across the world.
Source: Crypto Browser
15. Charles Lee, Litecoin
Sometimes referred to as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold,” Litecoin is a cryptocurrency project created by Charles Lee that aims to improve on Bitcoin’s infrastructure. After a career as a Google programmer, Lee released Litecoin in 2011.
Source: Charles Lee via Wikimedia
Allowing users to send transactions in less time when compared to use on Bitcoin’s blockchain, Litecoin quickly rose in total market capitalization. Today, Litecoin is the 9th largest cryptocurrency project when measured by total market capitalization, with a total value of more than $13.6 billion. Lee currently works full-time with the Litecoin Foundation to introduce more practical use cases for the cryptocurrency.
16. Guillaume Pousaz, Checkout.com
Checkout.com, a payment processing system, has largely flown under the radar until 2019, when the London-based company raised $230 million in its first Series A round of funding. Since then, Pousaz has led the company on a path of incredible growth, expanding to a valuation of more than $5.5 billion in 2020. Though the company is still behind rivals like Stripe, Checkout.com’s innovative unified payment system has allowed the processing system to carve out a unique niche in the world of digital payments.
Source: Checkout.com via Yahoo! UK
17. Jonathan Levin, Chainalysis
Though the world of cryptocurrency investments has been at the top of both retail and institutional investors’ minds throughout 2020, surprisingly few analytics companies exist to track the movements of these projects. Levin is the co-founder and Chainalysis, a company originally founded to track and analyze the movement of the price of Bitcoin. Since then, Chainalysis has expanded to include analytics for additional cryptocurrencies like Tether and Ethereum. Chainalysis is currently considered to be one of the main companies making cryptocurrency secure enough for institutional usage.
18. Eric Wu, Opendoor
Does the prospect of buying a home online seem daunting to you? Eric Wu, the CEO of real estate startup Opendoor, allows users to list their properties “as-is” and receive a bid from Opendoor. After purchasing the property, Opendoor charges the owner a fee comparable to the commission paid to an agent or realtor, makes any needed repairs and relists the property for sale. The seller receives the convenience of a quick sale without the involvements of multiple rounds of offers.
A pioneer of proptech, Opendoor changed the way that users sell and value their properties. In December of 2020, Opendoor officially merged with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and began trading on the NASDAQ exchange. Wu continues to use technology to upend and redefine old industries, include real estate and property sales.
19. Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave
The last year brought an influx in payment processing systems in Africa. One of the most prominent of these services, Flutterwave, is a Nigeria-based payment processing system that allows users to develop customizable applications that provide site administrators with more options when it comes to integrated payments.
Source: Flutterwave via Medium
Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola recently led its most recent round of Series C funding to the tune of $170 million, meaning that the company has officially reached more than $1 billion. Agboola is one of the only CEOs of African startups that has raised more than $200 million in capital overall.
20. Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Klarna
If you’ve ever opened a credit card, you know the idea of “buy now, pay later.” Klarna co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski brings more than 205,000 fee-paying retailers on board with Klarna’s easier, more flexible payment methods. With a single click, users can renew and refresh their wardrobes and pay for their purchases in installments later on.
In just over 2 years, Klarna has grown from a small-time payment processing system to one of the largest banks in Europe. In 2021, the company claimed to have a total valuation of $31 billion.
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