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London Tech Week

These fintech unicorns are making UK the epicenter of digital finance

UK Fintech Unicorns

In 2022, there was a decline in fintech investment in the UK following a surge during the pandemic. A report by KPMG indicated a decrease in the number of large investment deals in the second half of 2022 compared to the previous period, as investors awaited stable valuations.

However, the UK remains a highly attractive destination for fintech investment, ranking second only to the United States and surpassing countries like India, Germany, France, Sweden, and Italy. A Dealroom report claims that London, in particular, has emerged as the world’s largest centre for fintech investment, surpassing both San Francisco and New York.

Furthermore, the UK boasts one of the highest fintech adoption rates globally, with 42% of the population utilising fintech services compared to the global average of 33%. Notably, companies like Revolut, with 20 million customers, and Starling Bank, approaching 3 million users, exemplify this widespread adoption.

The UK government intends to make the nation the home of digital finance and aims to have over 3,000 companies in this sector by 2030. Back in 2019, there were 1,600 fintech firms and this number had grown to 2,500 in 2022, aligning with predictions of a doubling in this number in the coming years. In addition to this, the UK also showcases a significant number of fintech unicorns. That said, here is a list of unicorns contributing to the UK’s thriving fintech ecosystem and reinforcing its position as a global fintech leader.

Copper

Copper team
Picture credits: Copper

Founder/s: Dmitry Tokarev
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: $281M
Valuation: $2B

Crypto custodian Copper believes the cryptocurrency industry should be available and accessible to everyone. The London-based company provides a secure infrastructure for the institutional digital asset investment community and enables off-exchange trading and settlement at tier-1 digital asset exchanges.

CopperConnect tool covers the “DeFi lifecycle” as an asset – an infrastructure system that provides security throughout the custody, transfer, and lock-up process, as an asset makes its way to a DeFi smart contract. Providing infrastructure for digital assets to institutions such as FTX and State Street, Copper snapped $196 million in Series C funding in late 2023.

GoCardless

GoCardless team
Picture credits: GoCardless

Founder/s: Hiroki Takeuchi, Matt Robinson, Tom Blomfield
Founded year: 2011
Total funding: $529M
Valuation: $2.1B

GoCardless is an account-to-account payment company that makes collecting payments by bank payments, such as direct debit and open banking payments, easy for everyone. It provides an online platform for businesses to set up and manage one-off and recurring payments through bank payments. GoCardless acts as an intermediary between businesses and their customers, facilitating the collection of payments directly from customers’ bank accounts. It also provides international payment capabilities, allowing businesses to collect payments in multiple currencies and across different countries.

Early in 2022, the fintech company secured $312 million in funding in the Series G round led by Permira at a valuation of $2.1B. New investor BlackRock Private Equity Partners also joined the round.

Lendable

Lendable founder
Picture credits: Lendable

Founder/s: Jakob Schwarz, Martin Kissinger, Paul Pamment, Victoria van Lennep
Founded year: 2014
Total funding: $287M
Valuation: $4.8B

The AI-powered consumer finance platform makes lending as easy as possible. Lendable applies AI and automation to enhance underwriting and offer customers better rates, transparency, and service. Also, it offers institutional investors ranging from global banks to family offices access to the asset class. Users can get the quote in a matter of a few clicks, which is different from traditional banks, which require paperwork and run expensive branch networks.

Last year, Lendable secured £210 million in funding led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP). The investment will be used to develop new products and drive the company’s ambitions for international growth.

Checkout.com

Checkout.com founder
Picture credits: Checkout.com

Founder/s: Guillaume Pousaz
Founded year: 2012
Total funding: $1.8B
Valuation: $40B

Checkout.com is a leading global payment solution provider that empowers businesses to accept and process online payments seamlessly. With its advanced technology and extensive range of payment methods, Checkout.com enables merchants to optimise their payment infrastructure, increase conversion rates, and provide a smooth and secure payment experience to their customers.

By offering flexible customisation options, real-time data insights, and robust fraud prevention measures, the company helps businesses of all sizes drive growth, expand globally, and stay ahead in the dynamic world of digital commerce.

Earlier in 2022, Checkout.com raised a massive $1 billion in a Series D funding round and reached a valuation of $40B. With this round, it became the most valuable private tech company in the UK.

Zilch

Zilch founder
Picture credits: Zilch

Founder/s: Philip Belamant
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: $460M
Valuation: $2B

Klarna-rival from the UK, Zilch allows its customers to shop wherever Mastercard is accepted. It enables users to keep track of all their purchases in one place, whether made online or in-store, ensuring they have a transparent view of their finances and their repayment timelines.

In November 2021, Zilch secured $110 million in funding in a Series C investment round from Goldman Sachs Funds and Ventura Capital, reaching double unicorn status. It has secured an additional $50 million in funding in June 2022, taking the total raise for its Series C round to $160 million. 

Marshmallow

Marshmallow founders
Picture credits: Marshmallow

Founder/s: Oliver Kent-Braham, Alexander Kent-Braham, David Goaté
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: $118M
Valuation: $1.3B

The UK insurtech company Marshmallow offers insurance to underserved customers such as migrant workers, individuals with poor credit histories, and young drivers. It uses a sophisticated underwriting process that takes into account a wider range of factors beyond traditional demographics. Also, it harnesses the power of advanced technology and data analytics to provide more accurate risk assessments.

Recently, Britain’s first-ever black-owned unicorn prioritising delivering a seamless and transparent customer experience, landed a £15 million 3-year revolving credit facility from Triple Point Private Credit, one of the largest non-bank lenders in the UK.

OakNorth Bank

OakNorth Bank founder
Picture credits: OakNorth Bank

Founder/s: Joel Perlman, Rishi Khosla
Founded year: 2015
Total funding: $861M
Valuation: $2.4B

A challenger bank, OakNorth Bank focuses on providing customised lending and savings products to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs. The company provides fast, flexible, and accessible debt finance from £500k to £45 million to fast-growth businesses. It combines traditional banking practices with advanced technology and data analytics to offer tailored financial solutions.

To date, the company has lent over £5 billion to hundreds of businesses across the UK. Back in 2019, the British company raised $440 million in funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund as well as the Clermont Group.

Zepz (WorldRemit)

Zepz founder
Picture credits: Zepz

Founder/s: Catherine Wines, Ismail Ahmed, Richard Igoe
Founded year: 2010
Total funding: $655M
Valuation: $5B

Zepz provides an online cross-border payments platform covering 150 countries. It lets people send money to friends and family living abroad, using a computer, smartphone, or tablet. It is a convenient, low-cost alternative to traditional money transfer companies that use high street agents and charge high fees.

Initially founded as WorldRemit, the company rebranded to Zepz in 2021 after acquiring the remittance company Sendwave. Also, it snapped $292 million in Series E funding from Farallon Capital among others, as well as backing from existing investors Leapfrog, TCV, and Accel.

Paddle

Paddle founder
Picture credits: Paddle

Founder/s: Christian Owens, Harrison Rose
Founded year: 2012
Total funding: $291M
Valuation: $1.4B

The London-based unicorn Paddle offers SaaS companies a completely different approach to their payments infrastructure. It assists SaaS companies to avoid assembling and maintaining a complex stack of payments-related apps and services and acts as a merchant of record for its customers. Apparently, it eliminates the pain points in payment fragmentation and offers a safer, cheaper, and better option.

Currently, Paddle is used in over 200 countries for its services such as payment routing, tax collection, compliance, invoicing, subscription management, renewals, reporting, and fraud protection. Last year, the company picked up $200 million in a Series D round in the form of equity and debt financing.

ManyPets (Bought By Many)

ManyPets founder
Picture credits: ManyPets

Founder/s: Guy Farley, Steven Mendel
Founded year: 2012
Total funding: $483M
Valuation: $2.4B

ManyPets, which was formerly known as Bought By Many, is a pet insurance provider that aims to make the world a better place for pets and their parents. The company is known for introducing pet insurance and wellness policies, such as cover for pre-existing conditions, and was the first pet insurance provider in the UK to offer online claims. Also, it was the first company in the UK to offer customers free, unlimited access to video calls with registered vets, a lifeline for many pet parents throughout the lockdown.

Back in 2021, the company secured nearly €286 million in a Series D funding round led by EQT Ventures, alongside Willoughby Capital and existing investors FTV Capital, Octopus Ventures, CommerzVentures, and Munich Re Ventures.

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