London Fintech: Top Early-Stage Startups
Sam Peckett, 11 May 2023
Home to two-thirds of the UK’s seed stage fintech startups, London is a world leader in financial institutions and financial service businesses. While Q1 of 2023 has seen a drop in deals and the amount invested in seed stage companies when compared to Q1 of 2022, there are areas of UK fintech bucking the trend—deals in seed stage blockchain startups have seen deals announced grow by 56%.
It’s important to remember that Q1 of 2022 was the best performing quarter for equity investment in the UK on record. So, while the number of seed stage deals has fallen in 2023 compared to the previous year, it’s still the fifth highest Q1 since 2013, and the amount invested in seed stage companies has only been higher in 2021 and 2022. Crucially, there are still a lot of fintech startups receiving significant investment in London.
What is fintech?
Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology. The industry aims to improve financial services for businesses and consumers through technology developments. Examples of financial technology companies include challenger banks, cryptocurrency startups, investment apps and peer-to-peer lending apps. They often use artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation to disrupt current financial industries. Fintech also includes insurtech (insurance technology) and regtech (regulatory technology) companies.
Cryptocurrency startups allow consumers to buy, sell and store their crypto such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies decentralise transactions by allowing them to be validated and recorded without an intermediary like a bank. This is done through blockchain technology, a linear chain of ‘blocks’ which contain information on transactions and cannot be modified, keeping cryptocurrencies secure.
Top early-stage fintechs in London
There are 411 seed stage fintech companies in London, and we’ve profiled the capital’s top seven, ranked by the amount of equity raised. These companies are early on in their journey, have an average of seven employees and of those that have reported financials, their average turnover is £666k.
Amount of equity raised: £40.7m
Number of rounds: 3
Topping our list is Whitechapel-based Plend with £40.7m raised. The company aims to allow lending outside of the credit score system, helping more people in the United Kingdom get affordable credit. Plend uses open banking to learn more about those who apply for a loan than can be seen from their credit history, allowing more people to access loans. It’s a peer-to-peer payments platform, with people lending money to borrowers in return for a share of the interest. The company is regulated by the FCA and has, significantly, become the first consumer lending company to achieve pending B Corp status. This signifies high social performance, transparency and accountability.
Plend launched in July 2022 and has seen high growth as its loan book has increased by 20% each month. Its rapid growth led to a £40m fundraising in November 2022, with investors such as Active Partners, Velocity Juice, and the founders of Monzo, Starling Bank and Oodle Car Finance. Their investments will be used to scale the business in 2023 and acquire new customers.
Amount of equity raised: £28.1m
Number of rounds: 2
Sequence is a SaaS financial tech company that allows for flexible business-to-business billing for any contract, payment or pricing model. A service provider to startups, Sequence offers flexibility in billing as startups scale, and will transfer a company’s current billing to their system. It also allows for integrations with other software such as Stripe, Slack and Quickbooks, to connect all a companies payment services together.
Sequence has gone through two fundraisings so far, with its latest in September 2022, when it raised £16.7m. Its first funding round was in December 2021, where it raised an impressive £11.4m. Investors include Salesforce Venture, the venture arm of Salesforce, and 9Yards capital, whose portfolio includes Robinhood, Coinbase and Gusto.
Amount of equity raised: £23.7m
Number of rounds: 3
Founded by entrepreneur Jamie Cox, TreeCard allows its users to support the environment by doing things they do anyway: spending money and walking. Each time you spend using a debit card, the shop or store pays a small fee to the card provider. TreeCard uses that fee to plant trees. Their card is plastic-free, made from wood and recycled plastic bottles., Each time you plant a tree you get 50 points to spend on rewards with an environmental focus—think kayaking trips, treehouse retreats and national park passes. You can also earn 50 points by walking 10,000 steps—they want to encourage their users to reduce their carbon footprint by encouraging walking instead of driving.
Across three fundraising rounds, the company has raised £23.7m, with the latest Series A (seed stage) investment worth £19m in November 2022. Their investors include Ecosia, a search engine that uses their ad revenue to plant trees, Valar Ventures, whose portfolio includes Wise, which hit a valuation of £8.80bn and World Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in companies in Europe that have an environmental focus.
Amount of equity raised: £22.5m
Number of rounds: 1
Pimlico-based Super Payment offers an online checkout alternative to the current heavyweights of PayPal, Klarna and Apple Pay. Rather than take a transaction fee from online retailers for paying on credit or debit card, Super Payments directs customers to pay through their bank account which eliminates these costs and means payments happen in real-time. Retailers can then pass these savings on to their customers through cashback. Super Payments believe this will lead to an increase in sales, and will only charge businesses using them if their sales grow by switching to them.
Integration with well-known e-commerce websites such as Shopify and Squarespace is built in, and the idea led to a successful fundraising in August 2022. Super Payment raised £22.5m from Accel Partners, who have previously invested in Etsy and Meta, along with angel investors such as Coinbase board member Gokul Rajaram and ex-Depop CEO Maria Raga.
Amount of equity raised: £22.4m
Number of rounds: 3
Fintech Farm is working to create neobanks in emerging markets. Digital banks under Fintech Farm’s belt include Azerbaijan’s Leobank, Nigeria’s Fibo and Vietnam’s Liobank. They offer customers a free debit card and credit card, and digital payments can be made on Fibo’s app simply by both users shaking their phones next to each other—no account details need to be swapped. The company aims to launch neobanks in eight countries. It does this by partnering with existing banks in the markets with the necessary licenses, and using its own app and logo, but under a different name in each country. Co-founder Dmytro Dubilet previously founded Ukranian challenger bank Monobank.
The company has raised £22.4m since its first fundraising in January 2022, and most recently raised £2.44m in March 2023. Investors include AVenture Capital, Flyer One Ventures and TA Ventures, who have invested in businesses such as food-delivery service Jiffy and Vox, a music player integrated with SoundCloud, YouTube and last.fm.
Amount of equity raised: £20m
Number of rounds: 2
Aiming to simplify property development investment, BLEND Network uses peer-to-peer lending to provide funding for mid-sized real estate developers and SMEs. The company’s typical loans are £1m to £10m and are usually used for refurbs, conversion, bridging, development and ground up development. To date, BLEND Network has funded £53.9m and produced a 9.62% return a year for its lenders, while aiming to reduce the housing shortage by bringing more funding to the property market.
BLEND Network attended the Business Growth Programme accelerator, and has since had two fundraising rounds, each raising £10m. Its first was in December 2018, and its latest was February 2022. Its fundraisings have come from business angels such as Nico Paraskevas, former senior executive at Glencore, and OakNorth Bank chair Cyrus Ardalan.
Amount of equity raised: £19.9m
Number of rounds: 2
Based in Hackney, Paytrix allows businesses to access a complete payment infrastructure through one single contract, payment and API. Businesses managing global payments need to receive payments across the world, convert currencies and send money globally. By combining all of this into one ecosystem, Paytrix makes it easier to scale by reducing the number of contracts and products that have to be managed simultaneously.
Totalling £19.9m in funding across two rounds, Paytrix raised £5m in October 2022, before adding another £14.9m to its capital six months later in March 2023. Investors include Bain Capital Ventures, who have funded Pleo, Clocktower Ventures, a venture capital fund that focuses purely on fintech, and Hambro Perks, who have invested in financial planning app Moneybox, digital business bank Tide and location finder what3words.
Uncover early-stage startups in the UK.
Get access to unrivalled data on all the companies you need to know about, so you can approach the right leads, at the right time.
Book a demo today to see all of the key features of the Beauhurst platform, as well as the depth and breadth of data available.
An associate will work with you to build a sophisticated search, returning a dynamic list of organisations that match your ideal customer profile.