Forbes 2019 FinTech 50 (Image Credit – Forbes)

Financial technology (FinTech) continues to evolve and develop as a fundamental component in today’s world of finance, commanding $55 B in investment in 2018.

Forbes FinTech 50 showcases the 50 most impactful companies in the FinTech industry (for the US) when it comes to innovation and growth, across multiple sectors such as real estate, lending, payments, blockchain, and personal finance.

Out of the 50 firms that were recognized this year, 19 are valued at $1 B or more (labeled as “unicorns) and half came from the hub of the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Menlo Park) — the 2018 list featured a total of 23.

Here are the 25 companies from Forbes FinTech 50 representing the Bay Area in 2019 (sorted by category):



Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase (Image Credit – BTC)

  • Coinbase continues its monumental growth as a top cryptocurrency exchange, growing beyond a retail marketplace and moving towards the needs of institutional investors with a robust platform.  The crypto unicorn acquired, a company that connects users and experts through email with cryptocurrency as the method of payment for completed tasks or advice.  Based out of San Francisco, the company was founded in June 2012 by Brian Armstrong (CEO).

  • Ripple (featured in FinTechtris’ DEEP DIVE series) expands its product offerings beyond an efficient, cost-effective remittances platform, to a global leader in settlements and transfers.  The company continues adding institutional partners and running pilot programs that will replace today’s money movement models in finance.  Based out of San Francisco, the company was founded in 2004 by Chris Larsen, Jed McCaleb, and Arthur Britto.


Image of screens of Personal Capital platform (Image Credit – Personal Capital)

  • Personal Capital offers an all-inclusive platform to view all banking and wealth management accounts, in addition to complementary services and tools for retirement and analysis.  Depending on an individual’s funds under management, annual fees range from 0.49% – 0.89%.  Based out of Redwood City, the company was founded by Bill Harris.

  • Guideline helps businesses establish 401(k) plans for employees with a one-time $500 setup fee and $8 monthly subscription (per employee).  Once initiated, employees can make individual changes as needed, or follow Guideline’s advice depending on their goals.  Based out of San Mateo, the company launched in 2016 and was founded by Kevin Busque, Mike Nelson, and Jeremy Caballero.

  • Robinhood is a commission-free platform for stocks and cryptocurrencies, which has grown to become a FinTech unicorn and was featured in detail in FinTechtris’ DEEP DIVE series.  The company is still focused on gaining market share through a checking and saving product offering, after its initial failed attempt at the end of 2018.  Based out of Menlo Park, the company was launched by Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev in April 2013.


Max Levchin, Founder of Affirm (Image Credit – American Banker)

  • Affirm is a lender that partners with online merchants in helping their customers finance purchases at checkout with 3 – 24 month loans at 10% – 30% APR (depending on credit score), without any additional fees.  Affirm reached unicorn status at the end of 2017 — based out of San Francisco, the company was founded by Max Levchin.

  • Nova Credit has been instrumental in gathering data on immigrants lacking a credit profile from non-US credit bureaus (from Canada, Mexico, UK, and others) to help US lenders and landlords judge credit worthiness.  This data aggregation has helped the FinTech create a score similar to a FICO.  Based out of San Francisco, the company was founded from a Stanford graduate class project by Misha Esipov, Nicky Goulimis, and Loek Janssen.


Patrick and John Collison, Stripe’s Founders (Image credit – Apple Magazine)

  • Stripe is THE giant among FinTech unicorns first focused on payment processing, and expanding its platform to issuing credit cards, POS software, and billing. Based in San Francisco, the company was started in 2011 by Patrick and John Collison.

  • Bolt has an e-commerce platform that reduces transaction times, includes tools for analysis and fraud prevention, and protects businesses from fraudulent losses. Based in San Francisco, the company was started back in 2014 by Ryan Breslow and Eric Feldman.

  • Brex (recently valued as a unicorn) offers corporate cards for startups based on the company’s cash and value, instead of personal credit history of borrowers / founders (which traditional lenders do). Larger rewards are gained for expensing travel, subscriptions, and transportation. Based in San Francisco, the company was founded by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi.

  • Marqeta helps businesses monitor and control the usage of company cards upfront with its processor platform, minimizing unauthorized transactions and fraud. Based in Oakland, the company was founded by CEO Jason Gardner.

  • Plaid is an indirect part of the Payments sector in FinTech, as the company (now a unicorn) enable payments and finance apps that rely on bank data to integrate with financial institutions (current over 10,000) using its API offerings. Only a handful of FinTech companies have as much widespread engagement in the industry as Plaid when it comes to businesses and individual customers (featured in FinTechtris’ first DEEP DIVE series).

  • Poynt offers software and hardware for point-of-sale transactions, which integrate with third-party applications to deliver added services such as data analysis or membership services. Based in Palo Alto, the company was started by Osama Bedier.

  • Tradeshift is an all-inclusive payment service provider when it comes to supply-chain businesses, specifically managing “Know Your Customer” (KYC) regulation and providing analysis and insights for future transactions. Based in San Francisco, the company was launched by Christian Lanng, Mikkel Brun, and Gert Sylvest.


Screenshot of Credit Karma app download (Image Credit – WSJ)

  • Credit Karma first focused on providing credit scores, and now offers software for tax preparation and credit monitoring services. Additionally, the company earns referral revenue when its customers act on customized offers based on their credit profile. Based in San Francisco, the company was launched by Kenneth Lin, Nichole Mustard, and Ryan Graciano.

  • Chime is a digital (mobile-only) bank initially built to help customers avoid overdraft fees, but has expanded to offer automatic savings tools (to round-up purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer to a savings account) and other services (like getting a paycheck early through their “Get Paid Early” service). Based in San Francisco, the company was founded by Chris Britt and Ryan King.

  • Even helps users both budget and save by linking with bank accounts, listing monthly bills, and analyzing what’s left over for spending. An added service will help customers access funds before their paycheck comes in, without any fees. Based in Oakland, the company was created by Jon Schlossberg and Quinten Farmer.

  • Earnin helps individuals access their earned income at the end of their workday ($100 per pay period, or $500 for active users) without any delay or fees. The company’s business model is disrupting payday lenders that can charge up to 5% – 20% on loans. Based in Palo Alto, the company was founded by Ram Palaniappan.


Roofstock Founders, Gregor Watson and Gary Beasley (Image Credit – Reuters)

  • Roofstock focuses on the single-family rental market by providing resources for analysis, purchase, and selling properties. The company offers 12-months of guaranteed rent on vacant homes it sells. Based in Oakland, the company was launched by Gary Beasley, Gregor Watson, and Rich Ford.

  • Blend aims to reduce friction for customers and institutions by speeding up the loan approval process through its white-label, cloud-based software platform for an efficient, integrated mortgage experience — making it an industry leader in FinTechtris’ “Sector Spotlight” on real estate. Based in San Francisco, the company was started by Nima Ghamsari and Eugene Marinelli.

  • Opendoor is considered an “iBuyer” and helps both existing and prospective homeowners in saving time on the sale or purchase of their home. Also included in the “Sector Spotlight” on real estate, the company purchases properties directly from homeowners looking to sell in a few days (avoiding the time needed for listing), and sells directly to buyers from the portfolio of properties it owns without added on fees from traditional agents. Based in San Francisco, the company was founded by Keith Rabois, Eric Wu, Ian Wong, and JD Ross.

  • LendingHome provides bridge loans on residential properties for owners that “flip houses” (short-term buying and selling). Its platform has expanded to offer mortgages, and investments to investors. Based in San Francisco, the company was started by Matt Humphrey.


Founders of Ayasdi, Gurjeet Singh, Gunnar Carlsson, and Harlan Sexton (Image Credit – Silicon Angle)

  • Ayasdi has greatly reduced operational risk through its machine learning software aimed at preventing and identifying patterns of money laundering at large banks and institutions, and providing recommendations on efficient usage of capital reserves.  Based out of Palo Alto, the company was founded by Gurjeet Singh, Gunnar Carlsson, and Harlan Sexton.

  • Addepar created a platform for tracking and analysis of asset holdings, specifically for private offices, banks, and advisors — offering integration with industry leading companies such as Salesforce, Quovo, and Morningstar.  Based out of Mountain View, the company was started by Joe Lansdale and Eric Poirer.

  • Carta focuses on management and tracking of ownership in private companies for employees and investors alike, working with multiple unicorns in the startup space (such as Coinbase and Robinhood).  The company plans to expand to real estate and private equity and be THE secondary market for private assets.  Based out of Palo Alto, the company was started by Henry Ward and Manu Kumar in 2012.

As the FinTech industry continues record-breaking growth, multiple companies with solutions to challenging problems in finance are emerging. The broad spectrum and diversity across various sectors compared to last year clearly shows the pace of innovation we should expect to see over the next 5 years.

The extensive list of industry players from San Francisco showcases how dynamic of a FinTech hub the Bay Area has become for the US.