Chinese and US flags fly outside a hotel during a 2012 U.S. presidential election results event organized by the US embassy in Beijing on November 7, 2012.
Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images
From the U.S. to China, countries around the world are battling it out to lead on financial technology, a heavily lucrative industry that has grown over the years taking everything from retail banking to wealth management online.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, thousands of new firms have been set up with the aim of taking on the financial incumbents and providing more accessible services to both consumers and businesses alike.
In the U.K., startups like Monzo and Starling took the banking world by storm with their digital-only offerings, while in China, Alibaba and Tencent launched their own respective mobile wallets, Alipay and WeChat Pay.
In August, CNBC, in partnership with Statista, launched a list of the world’s top fintechs. To choose the top global firms, Statista used a rigorous method that evaluated a few key business metrics and fundamentals, including revenue and number of employees.
Statista identified 200 of the top companies globally, across nine categories including neobanking, digital payments, digital assets, digital financial planning, digital wealth management, alternate financing, alternate lending, digital banking solutions, and digital business solutions.
Using additional data provided by Statista, CNBC analyzed the top nations overall when it comes to financial technology, splitting the analysis into three main areas of focus:
- The countries with the most valuable fintech industries based on market capitalization.
- Overall number of top fintech firms, as identified by Statista.
- The amount of “unicorn” companies with valuations of $1 billion or more across different countries.
So, which countries are at the top of their game when it comes to fintech? In three charts, here’s what we found.
U.S., China home to most valuable fintechs
The U.S. is home to most valuable financial technology companies in the world in 2023, according to Statista data — but China isn’t far behind with mega-payments firms like Tencent and Ant Group making the country a solid second.
The valuation data is up to date as of April 2023, with the exception of Ant Group, Stripe, Nubank, Checkout.com, Revolut, Chime, Polygon, Rapyd, Ripple, Blockchain, and Plaid.
Combined, the U.S. produces the most value in terms of fintech, with eight of the top 15 highest-valued financial technology companies in the world worth a combined $1.2 trillion based stateside.
Visa and Mastercard are the two biggest fintech firms by market value, with a collective market capitalization of $800.7 billion.
China is home to the second-most highly valued fintech industry, with its financial technology giants worth a combined $338.92 billion in total market capitalization.
UK has second-biggest number of top fintech firms
The U.S. was home to 65 of the top fintech companies, according to CNBC’s list of world’s top 200 fintech companies. The U.K. was a close second with 15 of the top 200 fintech names globally, while the European Union is home to 55 top fintech companies.
The U.S. has a vibrant fintech market, not least thanks to its deep-pocketed investors.
Silicon Valley is a natural home for the sector given its storied history in birthing some of the world’s largest technology companies, like Apple, Meta, Google, and Amazon, and a well-established venture capital ecosystem with major players such as Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz present.
In the U.S., some of the top global fintech companies on Statista’s list include names like Stripe, PayPal and Intuit. These are all companies with significant shares in their respective markets and hallmark products used by thousands, if not millions, of businesses both big and small.
The U.K., similarly, has a prominent fintech industry.
Buoyed by forces many — from innovation-driven regulars like the Financial Conduct Authority, to growing pools of capital, including venture and private equity, to a government that has tried to rank fintech firmly high up on its agenda — the U.K. has managed to produce significant in the fintech world, from digital banking behemoth Monzo to listed payments firm Wise.
In China, which was another standout fintech player identified by Statista, the market for digital financial services is massive.
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Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant Group’s Alipay have cornered the market for mobile payments, providing ample competition to its fragmented, less built-up banking sector. Consumers in China tend to have a closer relationship with digital platforms like WeChat than they have with incumbent lenders.
But the fintech industry is faced with a number of challenges — not least macroeconomic headwinds.
Among the top roadblocks the sector faces right now, dwindling liquidity in venture capital is well up there.
In Europe, a combination of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the aftermath of Covid-19 lockdowns, and resulting interest rate increases have impacted most major economies.
In the U.K., meanwhile, the technology industry’s problems generally have been compounded by Brexit, which critics argue is limiting foreign investment.
“The venture environment is generally struggling,” Nick Parmenter, CEO of business management consultancy Class35, told CNBC. “IPOs are fewer and lower in valuation, funds are struggling to raise from LPs and valuations are down throughout the venture cycle.”
“This makes raising growth capital a lot tougher, which makes management teams more conservative in their cash consumption. This has had a trickle-down effect on the fintech market — consumers have less discretionary income to invest or spend, which limits revenue potential for consumer-focused fintechs and small businesses alike.”
U.S. top for fintech unicorns, UK second
The U.K. again flexes its fintech muscles when it comes to the number of richly-valued “unicorn” companies in the country — Britain stands only second to the U.S., which hosts most of the world’s fintech unicorns. Unicorns are defined as venture-backed companies with a valuation of $1 billion or more.
In the U.K., some of the biggest unicorns include online banking startup Revolut ($33 billion) crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com ($14 billion), and digital payments groups Checkout.com ($11 billion), Rapyd ($8.75 billion) and SumUp ($8.5 billion).
Stateside, meanwhile, the largest fintech unicorns are Stripe ($95 billion), Chime ($25 billion), Ripple ($15 billion), Plaid ($13.5 billion), Devoted Health ($12.6 billion, and Brex ($12.3 billion).
Other leading ecosystems for fintech unicorns include India, on 17 unicorns, and China, on eight. France, Brazil and Germany each have six fintech unicorns.
Standing in 8th place is Mexico, with five fintech unicorns, Singapore, also with five, and the Netherlands, which has four in total.
WATCH: U.S. ranks first for top global fintechs in new report from Statista and CNBC