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Joining a bank involves one important decision among all others – do they have my best interest at heart?

With the emergence of fintech startups, banks are beginning to see a rise in competition mainly amongst the relatively younger demographic. Financially focused startups are capitalizing in a variety of areas and according to Goldman Sachs they’re expected to consume $4.7 trillion worth of business.

Investors have recognized this trend as well; in 2014 there was an estimated $12 billion invested in financial technology encompassing payment processing and non bank lenders. They provide services of value that are cheaper and easier than going through big banks.

2016 is predicted to a be a competitive year in financial services, see which fintech startups you should keep an eye:


WePay Justin Farr-Jones

WePay is a San Francisco startup servicing the crowdfunding industry. We Pay processes online credit card payments for sites like CrowdRise or GoFundMe and profits through a 2.9 percent fee and a 30 cent profit from each transaction.

In 2014 alone, WePay rang in $24.9 million in revenue and ranks at No. 62 on the 2015 Inc. 5000. Their B2B and B2C model has earned the company a valuation of $220 million.


Betterment Justin Farr-Jones

Betterment is an automated investment platform that personalizes portfolios depending on a user’s interests, spend, retirement plans and other wealth planning factors. Depending on the size of investment, the company charges a commission rate between 0.35 and 0.15 percent, potentially some 2/3rds cheaper than traditional mutual fund managers.

Betterment has been able to grow their assets under management by 200 percent in 2014, from $1 billion in $3 billion in AUM. In the upcoming year, the company plans to add new, exciting products. Their automated 401(k) tool serves businesses and helps them give employers tailored advice around their assets. Participants receive a portfolio of ETFs and have the option to open taxable investment accounts if desired.


CommonBond Justin Farr-Jones

CommonBond is an alternative lending firm based in New York City and they’re taking on a problem that affects the masses. They are focused on ref-financing student loans.

This startup is hoping to fix the U.S.’s $1.3 trillion student debt crisis. CommonBond has raised $35 million in their September 2015 funding round, and expanded to serve graduate students of over 2,000 schools.

Collectively CommonBond has refinanced over $100 million in student loans. The company evaluates potential students who could fall under their program by looking at one’s FICO score, employment history, and savings accounts.


Affirm Justin Farr-Jones

Founded in 2013 by the prominent investor and co-founder of PayPal, Max Levchin plans for Affirm to flourish in similar fashion. Affirm provides online store finance to its users the finances to make large online purchases. Based off of their credit, they are awarded a certain interest rate, usually ranging from 6 to 20 percent.

If approved, you can choose to pay off your purchase over 3, 6, or 12 months.

You also have some options of how you pay – debit card, bank transfer or personal cheque.

Affirm has raised $275 million (in equity funding). They’re looking to expand their lending programs and further increase their impact.

Fintech startups have a short but effective history of providing services that the big banks haven’t yet mastered, especially towards millennials. Let’s watch how the four above perform in the next year.