Innovation in Finance / Banking

March 2020 updated

Swapna M
7 min readMar 3, 2020


Global financial platform — a single app where our customers can manage all of their daily finances. Revolut operates mainly in Europe and UK.

The company is building a financial service to replace traditional bank accounts. You can open an account from an app in just a few minutes. You can then receive, send and spend money from the app or using a debit card. You can insure your phone, get a travel medical insurance package, buy cryptocurrencies, buy shares, donate to charities, save money and more.

M1 Finance

M1 is not a roboadvisor, or a simple neobank, or a lending product; it’s all three at once, providing effectively the digital equivalent of a full-service bank. M1 users can open investment accounts, checking accounts, get a debit card and borrow money against their investment portfolios; it’s a cohesive feature set. And one that lets M1 price its products lower as a group than it could individually.

(Sidenote : What is a NeoBank? A neobank is a broad category of financial services providers that appeal to information-hungry consumers who are comfortable with technology. They can also bring down banking costs and expand services to the underbanked.)

Managing more of someone’s financial assets, and financial life, is going to be more economical. What it allows this company to do is maintain lower margins per product, but have enough margin on the entire financial relationship that they can build a very sustainable durable, long-lasting business.

All fintechs are expanding their platforms, meaning that, in time, nearly every fintech player will offer an array of services; Wealthfront, famous for its work in roboadvising, now also offers savings and borrowing capabilities.


Monzo started issuing prepaid bank cards in 2015 before obtaining a bank license two years later. Since then, it’s been able to expand into credit products like loans and overdrafts. Monzo plans to expand into business banking as well as paid accounts.

The company also intends to work with alternative financial services providers on products that it can’t offer alone. For instance, the app could in future recommend users switch to a certain mortgage or car insurance provider.

Neo Financial

Neo Financial is building relationships with thousands of local and national brands to provide a rewards-based credit card paired with a saving account offering high interest returns that will be provided by an unnamed third party Canadian banking partner.

ThoughtMachine — democratizing Banking

Banking as a Service.

Thought Machine’s primary product and technology is called Vault, a platform that contains a range of banking services — they include current/checking accounts; savings accounts; loans; credit cards and mortgages — that Thought Machine does not sell directly to consumers, but sells by way of a B2B2C model.

The services are provisioned by way of smart contracts, which allows Thought Machine and its banking customers to personalise, vary and segment the terms for each bank — and potentially for each customer of the bank.

In the case of the legacy banks that work with the startup, the idea is that these behemoths can migrate into the next generation of consumer banking services and banking infrastructure by cherry-picking services from the VaultOS platform.

Leap Finance

Democratize financing for foreign-bound Indian students.

Whereas in South East Asia,


Grab’s growth of its “super app” — in which it (like others pursuing a similar strategy) provides a one-stop shop for consumers to both see to their transportation needs, but also other aspects of their connected consumer life, such as eating, entertainment and managing their money — has involved the company partnering with a number of other financial giants, including Mastercard, Credit Saison, Chubb, and ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Ltd.

Grab is looking to playing a key role in driving financial inclusion in Southeast Asia and offering greater and affordable access to financial products and services to millions of customers across the region.


Gojeck from Indonesia has also expanded beyond ride-hailing into a wide range of services, including food deliveries and payments, through their apps.


Another on-demand transport app is making a move into payments to expand the existing relationship with its customers (and subsequent margins that it makes from serving them). Bird has announced the launch of Bird Pay, a service that will let people use its app to purchase items from local participating businesses alongside renting scooters.

Bird Pay will work by way of a QR code, which can be read via your app at the point of sale at participating businesses to make cashless purchases.

The company said that Bird Pay was created directly in response to requests from businesses themselves — who will be using the app to promote deals near to where Bird users pick up or drop off scooters. The link between local businesses and scooter rides is a strong one: Bird says it found that 58% of all the rides through its app start or end at a local business, and claims that businesses in all of its areas of operation — it’s now live in some 100 cities — say that the presence of Bird scooters outside their establishments have increased footfall.


is geared up to launch it’s own business banking account.

Shopify will build the software and the user experience, but the company will partner with a financial institution so that funds are held in federally insured accounts.

The company already provides payment processing and cash advances and loans to entrepreneurs, with approximately US$192 million in Shopify Capital funding outstanding as of the end of March. Hence they’d be relying on regulated financial firms in some ways.

Banking via Messaging

Players in the “banking services via a messaging” space include Kotak Mahindra Bank in India (on WhatsApp) and ICICI in WhatsApp (India).

With Zelf, users get an account and a virtual card via their Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram accounts. For offline and online purchases Zelf supports Apple Pay and Google Pay. This lightweight onboarding means card issuance takes less than 30 seconds via a Passport or national ID. Users then get a virtual Mastercard debit card available in their favorite messenger app.

Meniga, the digital banking tech provider

Meniga’s digital banking platform helps banks and fintechs use personal finance data to innovate in their online and mobile offerings. Its various products include a software layer that bridges the gap between a bank’s legacy tech infrastructure and a modern API, making it easier to build consumer-friendly digital banking experiences.

Meniga‘s product suite spans data aggregation technologies, personal and business finance management solutions, cashback rewards and transaction-based carbon insights.

Marqeta — Providing card services to fintech companies

By providing quick and flexible options to any kind of commerce company that wants to make the move into issuing cards to its customers, along with supporting services around them such as payment reconciliations, real-time fund transfers and customer interactive voice response services, Marqeta has managed to grab an entire generation of customers that banks have left behind.

Fintechs getting to the crypto scene

Fintech giant PayPal plans to roll out direct sales of cryptocurrency to its 325 million users.

Square, the payments unicorn launched by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, rolled out bitcoin purchases in its Cash App in mid-2018. London-based Revolut, which began offering crypto to users following a 2017 partnership with Bitstamp, raised $500 million in February, valuing the platform at $5.5 billion. Robinhood, the fintech app thought to be fueling the recent retail boom in equities day trading, first offered crypto in February 2018.