Fintech in the US: The biggest disruptors right now

The US is one of the largest developing fintech markets in the world. Rather than playing ‘catch-up’ as has been previously assumed, US fintech is in an exciting place and several companies are disrupting the financial industry.

The Current State of Play

The previously held idea that a lack of regulations has prevented the US from developing Open Finance has been proven false and it has become a priority for many US financial institutions and companies. The levels of VC investment in the US are far greater than those seen in Europe which help drive the Open Finance agenda, even without strong regulations. However, there have been recent developments that demonstrate a growing need for regulatory uniformity. The Financial Technology Association (FTA) is a trade group comprising of key banks and financial leaders seeking to develop regulations and national standards to ensure the integrity of the financial industry as it moves towards Open Finance.

Over 12 million customers are already benefiting from API-based data sharing and the previously common practice of ‘screen scraping’ has been replaced by APIs to provide better security. Individual preferences and behaviours are being closely monitored to prompt innovation and improve services from all aspects of the financial industry. Digital banking is set to continue to grow as the pandemic has seen an increase in digital and contactless payments, in contrast to the continued use of cheques and physically signing card payments.

US Disruptors

Several companies from different financial sectors are making prominent strides in Open Finance development.

Robinhood

Robinhood is a leader in commission-free investment opportunities, allowing customers to invest in US stocks from as little as $1. They have recently started banking services and include cryptocurrencies in investment opportunities.

Robinhood has changed the trading game through its promise to remain commission-free, forcing other platforms to do the same to stay relevant. The company also targets millennials, introducing investment to a new demographic which has been key to its success.

Coinbase

Coinbase is a cryptocurrency platform that allows traders to buy and sell bitcoin. It was one of the first start-ups to support Bitcoin in 2012 and has been deemed the ‘closest thing bitcoin has to a central bank’. Fees to transfer money are lower than many ordinary bank transfers, keeping the money in the cryptocurrency and creating a digital ecosystem.

Chime

Chime is a fintech company that helps its members avoid bank fees, save money automatically, and lead healthier financial lives. A few popular features include no-fee accounts, free overdrafts and early deposits from your wage before payday. Such features support Chime’s mission to make money easier and more accessible for its customers, which has prompted high investment and interest in the start-up.

Upstart

Upstart leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to price credit and automates the borrowing process. The majority of Americans have never defaulted on payments, yet less than half have access to prime credit due to outdated ‘scorecard’ systems.

Upstart’s innovative AI-powered system is one of the first to realise the opportunities of Open Finance in improving outdated systems and providing financial access to those previously excluded.

Mint

Mint is an extensible, self-hosted web site analytics program. Its interfaces are an exercise in simplicity. Visits, referrers, popular pages and searches can all be taken in at a glance on Mint’s flexible dashboard.

Mint is innovative in many ways. It categorises and analyses spending in ways other money managers do not, fully embracing Open Finance capabilities in a neat, consumer-centric app.

Stripe Treasury

Stripe Treasury is a banking-as-a-service API that lets companies embed financial services in their marketplace or platform. With a single integration, customers are enabled to hold funds, pay bills, earn interest, and manage cash flow.

Stripe has become one of the largest fintechs in the US, used by giants such as Amazon and Microsoft but remains a place for smaller businesses too. It uses Open Finance capabilities to create the ultimate ‘toolkit’ for business all in one location.

Brex

Brex is the financial OS for growing companies, with credit cards, cash management, and controls in a single account. As a US company it focuses on small businesses which make up 99.9% of US businesses. Brex helps companies with inventory, shipping and advertising costs through keeping credit down and the new BrexCash has the highest return rate in the market, providing start-ups with more of their cash to build their business.

On the whole, fintech in the US is growing and developing in perhaps different ways to elsewhere in the world, but nonetheless with impressive innovation and strong disruption.

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