January 29, 2016
As we have been actively providing an overview of global FinTech hubs with their flourishing ecosystems, it would be almost a crime not to look at Vancouver as one of them. In addition to London, New York, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and other global FinTech centers, Vancouver has a very powerful and active FinTech ecosystem that can easily compete with recognized destinations.
Some of the most successful and fast growing FinTech startups are based in Vancouver, a region that has continued to attract VCs attention across several borders. For example, Trulioo, the leading provider of global identity verification for the online payments industry, in December 2015 raised $15 million in an equity financing, an investment participated by American Express Ventures and existing investors BDC Capital, Blumberg Capital and Tenfore Holdings.
In November, Koho, a Vancouver-based FinTech company, has announced three major agreements with Visa, Peoples Trust Company, and Galileo Processing to deliver modern, no-fee mobile banking service to millennials. Koho will offer Koho-branded Visa prepaid cards issued by Peoples Trust Company with Galileo providing transaction processing services.
Cambridge Global Payments, a leading provider of integrated cross-border payment services and risk management solutions, have recently implemented its Automated Payable Solutions to transport industry’s largest leasing providers in Vancouver, where the company have eliminated more than 80% of the firm’s vendor checks within four months of launching the vendor management campaign.
nTrust, the rapidly growing technology company that has innovated several financial transactions, last year announced the expansion of its Cloud Money merchant network with the addition of 20+ new Vancouver businesses, a move that has brought Canadians one step closer to eliminating the use of both cash and card.
Some of the most curious initiatives in FinTech have seen a debut in Vancouver. For example, in 2013, Vancouver witnessed the debut of world’s first Bitcoin ATM. In the same year, Bitconiacs, a Vancouver based broker and local operator, ordered 5 machines from Robocoin, a Nevada based company. The ATM kiosks manufactured by Robocoin – at that time worth $18,500 (£12,350) – were unveiled at Waves, a Vancouver based coffee shop located at Howe Street. The coffee shop allowed users to buy a latte for Bitcoins, and it is a home for regular Bitcoin meetups where members swap cash for Bitcoins.
Characterizing the uniqueness of Vancouver FinTech ecosystem, Christine Duhaime, founder and executive director of the Digital Finance Institute, based in Vancouver, shared with Trulioo, The interesting thing about Vancouver’s fintech ecosystem compared with Singapore and London is that we don’t have any government or global bank subsidized fintech centres or fintech innovation labs, said Duhaime. The growth of our fintech ecosystem is real, organic, and much more viable and sustaining as a result, at least for the short term.
Vancouver FinTech Startups
Vancouver FinTech ecosystem is constantly developing and enriching new players with innovative ideas. Here are some of the FinTech companies operating in the city.
PayWith has developed a new mobile payment solution that – it believes – will change the way merchants use loyalty and rewards.
TIO Networks is a cloud-based multi-channel bill payment processor that provides billers and customers convenient access to accounts.
Payfirma offers businesses a multi-channel payment platform for mobile, ecommerce, and in-store payments.
Payso offers the easiest way to pay and collect money from family and friends using smartphone.
nTrust allows users to send or receive money instantly, regardless of the location.
PayByPhone, which is a division of London’s PayPoint, operates on a state-of-the-art IT platform that supports payments via touch-tone/IVR, text, the Internet and mobile web.
PayHero is dedicated to the financial empowerment of service industry workers and the success of the businesses that employ them.
Canada Drives helps Canadians to secure the finances that they need - regardless of credit history.
Grow, formerly (Grouplend), is Canada’s leading online lending platform.
InvestX is a private equity marketplace for retail investors.
ModernAdvisor is a next-generation financial advisor that is disrupting investment management in Canada.
Voleo allows users to create an investment club with family and friends.
Zafin is a provider of relationship banking software solutions to the financial services industry.
MatchSpread is a marketplace for Corporate Foreign Exchange transactions. Shop buy/sell FX rates from multiple FX brokers.
Netcoins turns any in-store device (tablet, mobile, and computer) into a virtual Bitcoin ATM.
Trulioo, an online identity verification company, enables trust and safety online by powering fraud and compliance systems worldwide.
Trustatom ID authentication is a public service, delivered free of charge.
Bench is the online bookkeeping service that pairs users with a dedicated bookkeeper and simple, elegant software to do their books for them.
Trippeo offers a simple expense management software to company employees and administrators, automating importing and tracking of business expenses, expense reporting and reimbursement, and other features.
Koho aims to change the way Canadian banks operate by collaborating with a federal financial institution and by offering customers a banking card, a web app and a mobile app.
FinTech ecosystem probably wouldn’t be so successful if there weren’t active investors and supporters involved in nourishing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Here are some of the VCs operating in Vancouver and looking forward to investing in promising ventures.
Version One Ventures: Venture One Ventures is looking for passionate entrepreneurs with deep domain knowledge, great product and design instincts that want to change the world. The firm is investing in ventures around consumer internet, e-commerce, SaaS and mobile opportunities. Venture One Ventures funds early-stage startups in range between $250K and $500K per company.
Vanedge Capital: Vanedge Capital is a $136 million early-stage venture capital fund based in Vancouver. Launched in May 2010, investors in the fund include major institutional investors as well as a number of high net worth individuals. The fund generally invest in a Series A round between $2M - $5M; it will invest in earlier or later stage deals where the team sees exceptional teams and technologies. Ideal companies should be post-revenue with a fast-growing user base and have demonstrated product market fit.
Stanley Park Ventures: Stanley Park Ventures is a startup foundry that turns great ideas into profitable companies. The fund works closely with entrepreneurs, providing them with vetted ideas and a proven playbook for execution. The team helps startups to find the right product/market fit, and leverage human and financial capital.
HIGHLINE: HIGHLINE is a global VC-backed accelerator platform that helps digital startups establish global connections, achieve product/market fit and secure institutional capital. The program is backed by major Canadian VCs, including BDC Capital and Relay Ventures whose collective funds under management exceed $2 billion.
Goal Holdings: Goal Holdings is a private investment company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The group is operating its own subsidiaries as well as investing in and partnering with business ventures across various industries such as information and communications technology, digital media, telecommunications, business services, real estate, clean technology and health care.
Discovery Capital: Established in 1986, Discovery Capital is one of Canada's most experienced technology venture capital firms that have invested in over 250 early-stage technology companies. The firm provides an expertise in strategic planning, management development, innovative financing strategies, corporate governance, and positioning for liquidity.
Ventures West: Ventures West is a privately owned venture capital company that in addition to financing shares expertise and experience to each venture that it invests in. Ventures West has been successful in deploying venture capital investments and sharing management depth, extensive contacts in North American technology, financial, and venture capital industries. Also, it has the ability to form investor syndicates.
Bootup Labs: Bootup Labs is a seed accelerator in Vancouver that helps founders and companies go "from concept to company." Bootup Labs recruits promising entrepreneurs and provides mentorship, ongoing support and office space to help define their business and secure venture financing.
Lighthouse Equity Partners (LEP): LEP is a Western Canadian based active investment partner working side by side with passionate management teams. Lighthouse Equity Partners private equity investment interests are in buyouts and growth equity investments in the lower middle-market in Western Canada and the Western United States.
Sora Capital Corp: Sora Capital Corp is an investment company in Vancouver with recent investments in emerging private companies in the technology sector. Sora Capital Corp provides capital in exchange for equity interests and gets actively involved in the operations of the companies invested.
Cypress Hills Partners: Cypress Hills Partners is a boutique alternative merchant banking firm based outside Vancouver. The company specializes in the origination of private equity, specialty private debt, and other uniquely structured products. Cypress Hills Partners is adept at leveraging technology and financial structuring experience to accelerate the growth of specialty lending platforms and service providers creating a differentiated market advantage.
OMERS Ventures: OMERS Ventures is the venture capital arm of OMERS, one of Canada's largest pension funds with more than $65 billion in net assets. The venture fund is focused on investments in the technology, media and telecommunication sectors in Canada and the US. Primarily, OMERS Ventures invests in startups at the early stages. OMERS Ventures is a lifecycle investor, which acts as a patient long-term partner that will continue to provide capital throughout a company's entire financing lifecycle.