Financial technology, better known as fintech, is an emerging industry that uses technology to provide powerful and exciting financial services. Billions are being invested in this emerging sector every year, with fintech startups even now competing with traditional banks, which can often struggle to keep up with digital innovation.
Barcelona is home to some of the most exciting fintech startups that meeting the demands of today’s hungry, tech-savvy customers. Companies such as N26 have opened offices here and created hundreds of jobs in the capital of Catalunya, putting Barcelona on the map of the global fintech market.
In case you’re not aware of the many innovators disrupting the financial services industry here, we’re bringing you a list of the most exciting fintech startups in Barcelona.
The big contenders
Founded in 2011, Kantox was hot off the mark, building momentum before consumers and investors realised the full potential of fintech as serious competition for banks. The London-based peer-to-peer finance platform’s main office is located in the Torre Mapfre skyscraper on Barcelona’s waterfront. The company recently closed its second venture debt financing deal with a €5 million package, taking their total amount raised to €21 million since their inception.
Kantox, which has appeared on the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 list every year since 2016, recently applied to the Bank of Spain for its local payment entity license in case of a disorderly Brexit outcome leading to the UK’s sudden departure from the European Union. Offering a cheaper and more transparent service than traditional banks, the firm boasts over 3,500 clients in 25 industries that have already exchanged more than €8.6 billion.
Mobile payment platform Verse enables users to make P2P payments. Despite being registered as an American company, Verse was initially founded in Barcelona in 2014 by three young Spaniards. Gunning to be “the WhatsApp of payments,” the free app lets users send money to any phone contact to share common expenses for parties, fuel, events and dinner without commissions.
Verse has so far raised more than €30M in funding to accelerate their ambitious growth plans and since its launch, the app has registered exponential growth in all areas. In May 2017, the fintech startup closed a major $20M Series B investment round, just half a year after raising over $8M for their Series A round. Now it plans to offer merchants the option to use Verse as a payment gateway as well as providing technological solutions for companies’ advanced payment needs.
Founded in 2012, ID Finance is a fast-growing fintech startup specialising in data science, credit scoring and digital finance. This emerging fintech player now holds its headquarters in Barcelona after relocating from Russia, leveraging machine learning and advanced data science techniques to improve access to competitive financial services.
The startup has conducted two successful funding rounds so far, raising $50 million in debt financing in 2017 from several sources to boost its Latin American plans, in addition to the $10 million of equity funding previously raised. ID Finance has been ranked 84th in the FT 1000 list of Europe’s fastest growing companies and is also the second fastest growing fintech in the region.
Strands, the fintech software company founded in 2004, develops solutions for banks and merchants to help increase customer engagement and generate new revenue through digital channels. Since 2004, Strands has been leveraging its extensive expertise in big data and machine learning to develop AI-based digital money management software. The firm’s last funding was a Series B round of $49 million 11 years ago, taking their total amount funded to date to $79 million.
Strands powered the first Personal Finance Management solution in Europe for BBVA, which is still considered to be one of the best mobile banking apps around the globe today. The company also began a partnership with Mastercard in 2018 to empower small-to-medium enterprise banking with AI and cutting-edge payment technology. With more than 300 corporate clients around the world and offices in Barcelona, San Francisco, Miami, Buenos Aires and Singapore, Strands is a company in constant growth.
The ones to watch
Unnax is a Banking as a Service company that provides Open Banking solutions. It provides APIs and tools for businesses to access bank account data from their users and to process payments and move money. Unnax is present in Spain, Poland, Portugal, Italy, and the Dominican Republic. Currently, more than 80 companies use their solutions, with clients ranging from leading companies to small businesses and consumers.
The Barcelona-based company was founded by Jordi Perez Roselló and Julián Díaz-Santos Hernández in late 2015, and received €1.5 million in funding with the help of Swanlaab Venture Factory in October 2017. The company has received €2 million in funding to date from Seed and Series A funding rounds.
Barcelona-based Combine is a mobile financial assistant that lets you aggregate all your bank accounts from multiple countries simultaneously and use the app as a personal finance manager. It’s the perfect solution for expats around the world to stay in control of their finances, allowing users to view a balance from all their bank accounts in one currency, with unified transaction history and insights from statistics.
Founded by Denis Moskalets and Irakli Agladze in 2016, the Combine team is a true example of a digital startup, with an international team of remote workers. The startup, which was part of the Startupbootcamp IoT & Data Tech programme in Barcelona, has raised over €200k from angel funding since their inception.
Founded in 2017, Goin is a savings management platform that enables users to save spare change from purchases they make which is then added to their Goin account. The startup uses intelligent machine learning algorithms to choose the best time to redirect a small part of users’ money, allowing users to select one of 3 levels of risk according to their personality.
Goin was born from an experiment by three young Spanish entrepreneurs that were looking for a way to optimise their saving. The savings app has raised a total of €2.2 million in its first year, with the aim of helping millennials achieve their financial goals. The startup plans to use these funds to strengthen its market share in Spain and look towards European expansion. It’s popular with its customers too: Goin has attracted more than 100,000 users and has processed more than €100 million, with a total of €3 million saved and invested by its users.
Founded in 2015, Covergy is a free app that allows you to manage all of your insurance products in one place. With the simple mission of wanting to make insurance easy for everyone, the Barcelona-based startup researches and proactively suggests the best offers for similar insurance coverage, as well as offering personalised support from a team of expert advisers.
Coverfy has raised a total of €4.3 million in funding so far, over 3 rounds. Their latest funding round was raised in 2017, which was a Series A round from K Fund. The group later acquired the SegurosBroker private insurance portfolio in 2018 and looks set to continue to cement itself as a market leader in Spain.
Founded in February 2017, InbestMe is an automated investment portfolio manager based in Catalunya. InbestMe uses a series of algorithms that decide on the best investments for you and manages your portfolio based on pre-established rules. These robotic managers are popularly known as “roboadvisors” and have simplified the investment process using digitalisation.
InbestMe recently closed a round of financing that reached €1.3 million. The startup plans to use this capital to accelerate company growth, with the goal of increasing their client base to 4,000 people and managing a volume of €100 million of assets in a year. With this round of investment, sourced from other technology companies and private investors, this startup completed an expansion kickstarted in April last year using contributions from its partners.
Barcelona’s first neobank, bnc10, is the first digital alternative to traditional banking created in the Catalan capital. Neobanks, 100% digital banks that customers can use via mobile apps, are attracting millennials at a scale traditional banks struggle to achieve. The objective of bnc10 is to help its customers to control their money through a mobile application in an easy and enjoyable way, with the possibility of making social payments and currency exchanges, all without commissions of any kind.
The bank has received a “seven-digit figure” of funding, already has the support of a group of minor investors and is growing at speed. That said, bnc10 is still in its development phase. The company was launched in July 2018 and expects to reach 50,000 users in 12 months. bnc10 has an app on the Play Store and App Store, which users can now download to subscribe to its waiting list. Additionally, bnc10 has partnered with Unnax to support the management and control of accounts, transfers and online services for customers. It’s also working with Kantox to save their clients costs and operations management time.
Bonus: additional fast-growing fintech startups
NoviCap, a Barclays Techstars alumnus, was funded in 2014 with the mission of digitizing the SME finance industry by building the first SME-centric, fully digital and cost-effective invoice finance solution. The startup has already raised more than €3M to date and has become the alternative finance leader for Factoring and Confirming in Spain. It has financed close to €100M in outstanding invoices to Spanish SMEs while enjoying an impressive 5.5x growth YoY since 2017. NoviCap’s next goal is to reach €1B in financed volume and becoming the main bank alternative to Factoring and Confirming in Europe by 2021.
Flanks is a SaaS Fintech startup based in Barcelona that was founded by Joaquim de la Cruz, Sergi Lao, and Álvaro Morales in December 2018. The company was established, after the founders’ team saw the need to develop a more accessible solution for those companies that sought to integrate with their clients’ banking accounts. Flanks has developed an API that aggregates all the financial data on a single user-friendly platform. Above this data layer, Flanks provides high value-added solutions for any Fintech company. The startup received a seed funding of €200K led by SeedRocket 4Founders Capital, Lanai Partner and several business angels in May 2019.
After the financial crisis of 2008, one thing that became apparent was the widespread distrust for traditional financial institutions. This caused a demand for alternatives that were transparent, inclusive and friendly.
This call was answered en masse: numerous Barcelona fintech startups are providing exciting challenges to traditional financial services. It’s often said that when money is concerned, “easy come, easy go”, but the fintech industry in Barcelona looks like it’s here to stay.