Before Covid, payments companies were some of fintech’s fastest-growing. As the pandemic caused online transactions to spike, these startups went on an unprecedented tear. Stripe and Plaid nearly tripled their valuations in a year, reaching $95 and $13.4 billion, respectively. Marqeta is preparing to go public at a valuation rumored to be north of $10 billion, up from $4 billion a year ago.

Jeff Kauflin, Forbes Staff | Forbes , Jun 8, 2021

The Future Of Payments: Fintech 50 2021

Orum CEO Stephany Kirkpatrick
Stephany Kirkpatrick is CEO of Orum, an early-stage fintech startup that aims to speed up bank transfers by using artificial intelligence. ORUM

Before Covid, payments companies were some of fintech’s fastest-growing. As the pandemic caused online transactions to spike, these startups went on an unprecedented tear. Stripe and Plaid nearly tripled their valuations in a year, reaching $95 and $13.4 billion, respectively. Marqeta is preparing to go public at a valuation rumored to be north of $10 billion, up from $4 billion a year ago.

Ten payments companies made the Fintech 50 this year. They range from fraud-fighting startups to a business that lets companies offer digital wallets to Latin American consumers to one that tries to make transferred bank funds available in one day, instead of five.

Here are the payments companies that made the Fintech 50 in 2021: 


Headquarters: New York City

Banks, fintech startups and retailers use Arcus’ software to offer digital wallets and online payments to their end customers in Latin America. Walmart’s digital banking app Cashi allows users in Mexico to deposit cash into a digital account and pay utility bills thanks to Arcus. 

Funding: $19 million from SoftBank, Citi Ventures, the Winklevoss twins and others

Latest valuation: $75 million

Bona fides:85 clients including BBVA and fast-growing Mexican food delivery startup Rappi

Cofounders & Co-CEOs: Edrizio De La Cruz, 40, who was an airplane mechanic at JFK airport before going back to college; Iñigo Rumayor, 30, who cofounded Arcus while still an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania


Headquarters: San Francisco

Its checkout software covers everything from fraud prevention and loyalty programs to integration with buy-now, pay-later financing. Its 5.5 million registered users can buy items from Bolt clients in one click. During 2020, Covid pushed its business to grow by more than 100%, processing $1 billion-plus in ecommerce transactions. 

Funding:$215 million from Westcap, General Atlantic and Activant Capital

Latest valuation:$850 million, according to PitchBook

Bona fides:Recently became the checkout provider for Authentic Brands, which includes retailers Forever 21, Barney’s and Brooks Brothers

Cofounder and CEO: Ryan Breslow, 27, who dropped out of Stanford’s computer science program in 2014 to start Bolt


Headquarters: San Francisco

Gives companies more control over their credit and debit card processing, letting them keep a bigger share of the fees that merchants pay, sometimes resulting in 0.4% more on each transaction. In 2020, while ecommerce surged, Finix’s business grew 300%. For every new funding round Finix raises, it has also committed to setting aside 10% of the newly issued equity for investors of color. 

Funding: $102 million from Bain Capital Ventures, Inspired Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and others

Latest valuation: $450 million

Bona fides: Processed nearly $5 billion in transactions in 2020

Cofounders: CEO Richie Serna, 33, a former Booz & Company consultant and Sean Donovan, 38, who previously spent 14 years at large payment processor Vantiv (now WorldPay)


Headquarters: New York City

Uses machine learning to help retailers and banks decide if a credit card transaction, rewards-points redemption or item return is fraudulent. When Covid hit the U.S. and consumers started behaving differently—for example, by having online orders shipped to stores for curbside pickup—Forter had to quickly retrain its models so it didn’t reject too many transactions. It nearly doubled revenue during 2020, reaching $10 million a month. 

Funding: $525 million from Sequoia Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures

Latest valuation: $3 billion

Bona fides: 250 customers, including Nordstrom, Instacart and Priceline; processing over $250 billion in transactions a year

Cofounders: CEO Michael Reitblat, 39; president Liron Damri, 38; and chief analyst Alon Shemesh, 43. All three worked for an Israeli anti-fraud company acquired by PayPal.


Headquarters: Oakland, California

Processes debit card transactions, giving companies that issue cards to employees and customers more control over whether transactions are approved. Instacart uses Marqeta to limit what items its food delivery people can buy, reducing fraud. Thanks to Covid, Marqeta’s on-demand-delivery clients were processing three times as many transactions at the end of 2020 as a year earlier, while its buy-now, pay-later clients had increased transactions fourfold.

Funding: $528 million from Granite Ventures, Iconiq, 83North and others

Latest valuation: $4.3 billion, with an IPO planned this year

Bona fides: Large stable of fast-growing customers, including DoorDash, Fintech 50 member Klarna and Square’s Cash App

Founder and CEO: Jason Gardner, 51, who started a rent payments company in 2004 that was acquired by MoneyGram for $28 million


Headquarters: New York City

In the U.S., employee paychecks, bank transfers and bill payments still take up to five days to settle. Orum aims to speed that up to one day by using machine learning to assess the risk of a transaction, allowing fintechs and banks to advance money to customers more quickly for transactions deemed safe. 

Funding:$29 million from Bain Capital Ventures, Homebrew, Inspired Capital and others

Bona fides:Analyzed $150 million in transactions in the first quarter of 2021 for 15 customers, including digital bank SoFi and First Horizon Bank

Founder and CEOStephany Kirkpatrick, 40, a certified financial planner who was previously general manager at financial planning software company LearnVest


Headquarters: San Francisco

Helps fintech apps like Robinhood, Coinbase and Venmo connect to customers’ bank accounts, enabling consumers to make deposits and payments. In early 2021, Plaid launched new features letting consumers easily switch their direct-deposit bank and allowing lenders to quickly verify borrowers’ income and assess risk.

Funding:$745 million from Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, NEA and others

Latest valuation:$13.4 billion, up from $5.3 billion 15 months prior

Bona fides:More than 4,500 customers, including the largest names in fintech, up from 2,600 a year ago

Cofounders: CEO Zach Perret, 31, and former CTO William Hockey, 33. They met as junior Bain consultants before founding Plaid in 2012.


Headquarters: New York City

Uses artificial intelligence to help financial services companies signing up new customers online to verify identities and prevent fraud. Analyzes data including an applicant’s email, IP address and device type to predict how likely someone is to be who they say they are.

Funding:$196 million from Accel, Commerce Ventures, Scale Ventures and others

Latest valuation: $1.3 billion

Bona fides:More than 400 customers, including three of the top five U.S. banks and seven of the top 10 credit and debit card issuers, plus digital banks Chime and Varo 

Cofounder and CEO: Johnny Ayers, 35, a Boston College grad who started a recruiting company before Socure


Headquarters: San Francisco

Its software lets companies ranging from tiny upstarts to Amazon and Zoom accept online payments in more than 100 countries. In 2020’s Covid economy, its business grew more than 50%, estimates MoffettNathanson. Recently announced new banking-as-a-service features, where Stripe customers can let their own users hold money, make payments and earn interest.

Funding: $2.2 billion from Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, Tiger Global and others

Latest valuation: $95 billion, up from $35 billion a year prior

Bona fides: Estimated 2020 revenue of more than $1 billion 

Cofounders: CEO Patrick Collison, 32, and president John Collison, 30, Irish-born brothers

Wise (formerly TransferWise)

Headquarters: London

Does online international money transfers for consumers at a 0.7% average fee, compared with 3-4% from U.S. banks, by matching currency orders within a country. While Western Union’s brick-and-mortar-heavy business shrank in 2020 due to Covid, Wise’s revenue grew 70%, hitting $420 million. Its debit card can be used to hold funds, transfer money and make purchases in 55 different currencies.

Funding: $542 million (according to PitchBook) from Sir Richard Branson, IVP, Andreessen Horowitz and others

Latest valuation: $5 billion

Bona fides: 10 million customers, up from seven million in early 2020

Cofounders: CEO Kristo Käärmann, 41, and chairman Taavet Hinrikus, 40, both originally from Estonia

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