January 19, 2016
Borderless innovation is a broad topic, which includes global expansion, global networking, cross-country laws, global business opportunities and partnerships and a lot more. A few FinTech startups have been successful in global expansion. Unlike startups in other fields such as taxi aggregators (think Uber) or productivity apps that expanded very quickly across the globe, it is difficult for FinTech companies to do the same. Since technological advancements allow companies to operate globally even while being physically located in one country, it presents a great opportunity to grow revenues through global expansion.
However, for FinTech companies, it is not easy to expand globally as money is involved and when money is involved, there are a lot of regulatory and compliance issues you have to take care of, not to mention the licensing requirements. As the barriers are higher for global expansion, very few FinTech startups have successfully managed to expand globally. Factors that contribute to or decide the success of global expansion for a FinTech startup include regulations, market opportunity, professional network, success in the home country, working with local industry bodies, local ecosystem, competition and flexibility of business models. Out of all these factors, regulations play a very critical role. When a startup’s business model revolves around payments, the FinTech startup has to devise a plan to smartly enter the market while following the regulations in the foreign country/continent. Many FinTech startups have also expanded globally via partnerships with other companies in the foreign country or by winning big clients in the foreign country. Global expansion is definitely not easy and to honor the efforts by FinTech startups/companies that have successfully been able to do that, we identified the top 25 FinTech startups/companies that have managed successful global expansion and have been growing at a consistent pace.
Payoneer: Founded in 2005 and based in New York, Payoneer is venture-backed, profitable and ranked in the top 100 of Inc. 5000’s Financial Services companies. Payoneer empowers global commerce by connecting businesses, professionals, countries and currencies with its innovative cross-border payments platform. In today’s borderless digital world, Payoneer enables millions of businesses and professionals from more than 200 countries to reach new audiences by facilitating seamless, cross-border payments. Additionally, thousands of leading corporations including Amazon, Google, Airbnb, and Getty Images rely on Payoneer’s mass payout services. Working in conjunction with the ecosystem, they recently did a successful roadshow (three cities) in India.
Square: Square is a software platform that enables retail stores and restaurants to accept mobile payments via iOS and Android devices. The company’s POS service offers tools for every part of a business, from accepting credit cards and tracking inventory, to real-time analytics and invoicing. Square also offers sellers financial and marketing services, including small-business financing and customer engagement tools. The payment company is said to have earned $560.6M in revenue in the first half of 2015, which is 51% more than in the first half of 2014. On November 6, 2015, Square filed for an IPO. At the upper band, the company is valued at $4.19 billion, significantly lower than their latest funding round valuation of $6 billion in October 2014. In August 2015, Square launched an Apple Watch-compatible application that allows users to make P2P payments through Apple Watch’s interface with a few taps. With news on share discounts due to the completion of the IPO, the company’s valuation dropped to $3 billion.
Trulioo: Founded in 2011, Trulioo is an online ID verification company providing advanced analytics based on traditional information such as public records, credit files and government data as well as alternative sources including social login providers, ad networks, mobile applications, e-commerce websites and social networks. Trulioo specializes in scoring online identities as authentic, machine-generated or fraudulent. In 2014, Trulioo expanded to Australia by acquiring Global Data Company (GDC), a leader in electronic, cross-border identity verification based in Melbourne. Most recently, Trulioo started providing identity verification coverage in India.
TransferWise: Founded in 2015, TransferWise moves $778 million every month in international remittances. In January 2015, the company received a funding of $58 million in its Series C funding round led by US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. The investment also included backing from existing TransferWise backers Sir Richard Branson, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Index Ventures, IA Ventures and Seedcamp. The company plans to use the new funds for international expansion. Apart from the US, the recent currency routes served by TransferWise include transacting money to Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria and Morocco.
Tipalti: Tipalti is the only payment management platform to automate all phases of the global supplier payment management lifecycle in one unified SaaS solution. Tipalti makes it painless for finance departments to pay any partner in a range of payment methods across the world while ensuring all tax and regulatory requirements are met and enhancing the partner payment experience. Fast-growing companies like GoDaddy, Chartboost, Disqus, PulsePoint, TouchOfModern and Visually use Tipalti to eliminate up to 80% of their workload spent managing payments to partners, so they can scale their business rapidly and efficiently with global growth. In May 2015, Tipalti expanded international payments capabilities through several new partnerships and product upgrades. It expanded its international ACH payments services to 58 additional countries across the world, covering Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
Funding Circle: Founded in 2010 in the UK, Funding Circle is the world’s leading marketplace exclusively focused on small businesses. More than $1.5 billion has been lent to 12,000 businesses in the UK, USA, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Funding Circle enables businesses to borrow directly from a wide range of investors, including more than 43,000 people, the UK Government, local councils, a university and a number of financial organizations. Funding Circle rapidly expanded to Europe and US In October 2015, it partnered with Zencap to expand to Europe. Long before that in 2013, it launched in the US by partnering with Endurance Lending Network.
Braintree: Founded in 2007, Braintree now processes more than $4 billion in annual credit card volume from thousands of merchants, nearly $1 billion in mobile payments, and its rapid growth earned it a spot on the 2011 Inc. Braintree’s solution has been proven to scale and support many of the most discerning, high-growth companies on the Web, including Rovio/Angry Birds, LivingSocial, 37signals, Airbnb, Uber and GitHub. In September 2013, Braintree was acquired by PayPal.
Stripe: Stripe is an online payments company that is focused on providing the technical, fraud prevention and banking infrastructure required to operate online payment systems. Stripe is available for business in about 20 countries with a few countries in private beta phase. The company’s unified set of APIs and tools enables businesses to accept and manage online payments instantly. Stripe has raised its valuation from $3.57 billion in 2014 to $5 billion by taking an investment from Visa. Previously, the company raised $190 million from investors like PayPal co-founders, Sequoia Capital, Box CEO Aaron Levie, Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and others.
iZettle: Founded in 2010, iZettle has been called the Square of Europe. iZettle offers small businesses portable point-of-sale solutions and free sales overview tools. Established by serial entrepreneurs Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson, iZettle has operations in the European nations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, UK, Spain as well as Latin American markets like Brazil and Mexico. It targets small and medium-sized businesses and tradesmen like plumbers and electricians who do not have the turn-over to support the infrastructure required for a traditional card-based system. It provides them the flexibility to receive card payments through the iZettle card reader and free app for iOS and Android.
Skrill: Founded in 2001, Moneybookers Limited, now trading as Skrill, was the first e-money issuer to become authorized and regulated by the FSA. In 2007, Investcorp Technology Partners undertook the buyout of the company from its founders. Skrill’s worldwide payment network offers businesses access to direct payment processing via 100 payment options in 200 countries and territories and 40 currencies through just one integration. It is one of Europe's largest online payments systems and among the world's largest independent digital wallet providers with 30 million account holders.
Remitly: Remitly is a mobile payments service, supported on Android, iOS and online, that enables consumers to conveniently make person-to-person, international money transfers from the United States. Its digital service uses the latest technology to eliminate the forms, codes, agents, extra time and fees typical of the traditional money transfer process. Remitly is authorized to operate in 45 states and sends millions of dollars to thousands of people each week. Remitly is backed by industry-leading investors, including DFJ, DN Capital, QED Investors, Trilogy Equity Partners, Bezos Expeditions, Founders’ Co-Op and TomorrowVentures. Remitly is headquartered in Seattle, WA with additional offices in the Philippines.
PromisePay: Founded in 2013, PromisePay is the world’s most sophisticated, fully managed payments platform built just for online marketplaces. PromisePay’s purpose has been to help online marketplace communities safely buy and sell the things they love, want and need. Over 17,900 users from over 150 countries use PromisePay to transact on the US and Australian marketplaces. PromisePay is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia with offices in San Francisco, CA, and St. Louis, MO.
Avoka: Founded in 2002 in Sydney, Avoka has won numerous industry awards for its innovative customer experience solutions. Avoka has digitized over 100 million transactions spanning more than 16,000 sales and service projects. Avoka is based in Denver, USA; London, England and Sydney, Australia.
Klarna: Klarna was founded in 2005 with a vision to create safer and simpler online shopping by letting the consumer receive the goods first and pay afterward while we assume the risk. With their high-tech solutions, they make it possible for sellers and buyers across the world to do business smoothly and seamlessly. With support from the same investors as Google, Facebook and Twitter, Klarna continues to grow, expand into new geographies and hire more world-class talent.
SumUp: Launched in August 2012, SumUp enjoys impressive global reach and has since expanded into 15 countries, including the US, Germany and Brazil. SumUp continues to grow and is backed by American Express, BBVA Ventures, Groupon and other renowned venture capital investors. The company is headquartered in London.
GoCardless: GoCardless is a UK-based payment firm works with SMB’s to accept direct debit payments and solve their late payment woes affecting cash flows. Found in 2011 by Matt Robinson, Tom Blomfield, Hiroki Takeuchi, GoCardless aims to make payment collection simpler for SMB’s through collecting direct debits online. GoCardless is high on investors’ confidence and has recently picked up a funding of about $4.8 million from the US and UK-based VCs like Y-Combinator, Passion Capital and Accel Partners.
CurrencyFair: Founded in 2009, CurrencyFair is the world’s fastest-growing peer-to-peer foreign exchange marketplace. Its customers are able to exchange funds and transfer them overseas at a fraction of the cost of traditional banks or brokers, due to its unique and innovative Money Matching model. CurrencyFair has served tens of thousands of customers saving them hundreds of millions of dollars in bank fees and exchange rate charges. CurrencyFair became the first platform in the world to break the $1-billion barrier in money-matching transfers, cementing its position as the world’s leading peer-to-peer international transfer service.
Lendico: Founded in 2013 in Germany, Lendico is a multinational peer-to-peer lending company, which is supported by Rocket Internet, the world's largest Internet incubator, which has built over 100 market leading companies in 50+ countries.
WorldRemit: WorldRemit was founded in 2010 by Ismail Ahmed, a Somali entrepreneur and a former adviser to the UN. Earlier in March 2014, WorldRemit had raised $40 million from the Silicon Valley group Accel Partners—the largest Series A funding round for a European financial technology business. The company has said that its revenues tripled in 2014 to £15.2 million, and expects similar growth in 2015. WorldRemit currently processes around 1.3 million transactions a year. WorldRemit’s service is available in 50 countries and sends to 117 recipient countries. The London-based firm is planning to use the funds for international expansion.
Borro: Borro is an online platform for secured loans that targets affluent consumers who seek credit at scales not available from traditional lenders. Over 75% of the loans are completed within 24 hours from valuation. Borro has originated $250M+ since 2011 and has been ranked eighth in KPMG’s 50 Best FinTech innovators globally in 2014. Loans are available up to $5 million in the US, and up to £5 million in the UK. Clients use Borro's loans for various reasons; examples include funding investments or meeting unexpected cash needs. They have offices in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Credorax: Founded in 2007 by technology experts, Credorax is one of the world's first high-tech companies to become a Principal Member of Visa and MasterCard and a financial institution licensed under the PSD (payment services directive). Credorax is a global company with headquarters in US and operations in Malta, UK, Japan and Israel.
Zooz: Founded in 2010, Zooz has thousands of retail customers worldwide and partners with leading payment gateways, processors, and e-wallets to ensure that both users and retailers enjoy full flexibility and the broadest of payment options. It offers the flexibility to connect with multiple financial institutions, seamlessly integrate acquirers, e-wallets, alternative payment methods, fraud management and other third-party services, and intelligently route transactions through the entire payment process.
Personetics: Personetics offers a predictive interaction solution designed specifically for the financial services industry. The company is dedicated to helping all types of financial institutions deliver a more personalized customer experience across all service channels, especially online, mobile and tablet. Founded in 2010, the company is valued at $77 million with $18 million in funding. Among its investors are Lightspeed Ventures, Carmel Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Viola. First International Bank is its main client.
As we emphasized a lot on regulation for FinTech global expansion, we dug deeper into it to see if region-specific regulations made a difference for FinTech startups. Results of a UK research survey by Silicon Valley Bank stated that 37% said regulatory issues were their biggest impediment, followed by reticence by corporations to adopt new technology (29%), changing consumer behavior (22%), and access to funding (12%). Results of a similar US research survey by Silicon Valley Bank concluded that nearly half of the survey respondents (43%) said regulatory issues were their biggest impediment, followed by reticence by corporations to adopt new technology (24%), changing consumer behavior (18%), and access to funding (15%). Despite these hurdles, the FinTech startups and companies mentioned above have been successful in their global expansion plans.
Geographically, the UK government and the UKTI makes life much easier for FinTech startups in the UK to expand globally outside of UK and FinTech companies in foreign countries to expand to the UK. Let’s Talk Payments has seen UKTI representatives in most of the FinTech networking events in the US. In the same UK research survey, Alex McCracken, Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank’s UK Branch, said, UK FinTech companies have a big advantage since UK government and regulators have an open dialogue with FinTech companies and modify regulations to support them, compared to state-by-state regulation in the US. Europe is also on the doorstep of UK companies wishing to expand.
Apart from regulators, banks and financial institutions are also contributing to and helping FinTech startups expand globally. As banks and financial institutions are looking for innovating solutions, they cross borders to look for great products and or services in FinTech. One of the ways they are doing it is by running accelerator programs, incubators or a VC fund internationally. For example, MasterCard launched its accelerator program MasterCard Start Path in 2014 to bring together the top global FinTech startups, solutions of whom can be integrated with MasterCard products and services.
LTP has been studying the subject of global expansion in depth, trying to understand the success factors that lead to a smooth rollout in international markets. What does it take? what kind of marketing plan do you need? When do you actually send your team on the ground? How do you customize your technology for the local market? LTP has come up with a framework to test your readiness for global expansion. If you are interested in talking to us about your plans to expand beyond your parent country, do let us know.