The financial technology (FinTech) industry is thriving around the world, having received nearly $40 billion worth of global funding last year alone—a figure that has nearly doubled since 2014. In Canada especially, the FinTech startup ecosystem has witnessed a euphoric growth rate. With Toronto’s FinTech landscape serving as a hotbed of activity, Toronto Life Magazine recently dubbed Toronto as “The New Silicon Valley.”
Below we take a look at 6 highly influential FinTech companies in Toronto. These successful start-ups not only inspire us, but demonstrate how practical and creative technological solutions can help ease our financial struggles.
Wave is a free small business accounting website changing the way millions of small businesses make money, spend money and track money. Wave offers an integrated suite of cloud-based tools to create and send professional invoices, manage receipts and payments, effortlessly track income and expenses, and deliver money to employees with ease.
Wave’s software is jargon-free and incredibly easy to use. By bookkeeping all transactions, Wave functions as an incredibly useful management tool for when taxes need to be filed. Furthermore, Wave is serious about security, boasting a PCI Level-1 certification for handling credit card and bank account information.
According to the Wave website, 2.8 million customers use the app, $200 billion+ in income and expenses have been tracked so far, and $19 billion in invoices are sent annually through the platform. With such widespread success, PCMag praises Wave as “one of the best online resources period for its target small business audience.”
SmoothPay is a mobile payment, loyalty, and engagement company that delivers valuable offers and rewards to consumers through the free SmoothPay app. Once downloaded, a user can browse all the nearby locations that accept SmoothPay and any incentives they offer. When making a payment, a user simply displays the QR code on the pay screen to the retailer’s SmoothPay terminal and in return collects rewards, cashes in on offers, and receives an emailed receipt.
CEO Brian Deck explains that, while large companies like Starbucks have the resources and brand strength to achieve adoption of a mobile payment and loyalty app, many small businesses can’t afford the costs of developing a similar app. Furthermore, consumers would prefer not to have a jumble of different loyalty and payment apps on their phones. Functioning as a single transaction app, SmoothPay is the perfect way for consumers to pay-in-store at participating cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Soon carrying a wallet, like wearing a watch, will be an indication of old age. SmoothPay is convenient, beneficial to consumers and retailers alike, and encrypted with industry-leading security features. As mobile payments account for more and more transactions, we predict that SmoothPay will only continue to grow as a FinTech company.
Quandl is a data platform that delivers financial and economic data to over 250,000 users, including analysts from the world’s top hedge funds and investment banks. By sourcing, evaluating and productizing undiscovered data, Quandl equips sophisticated investors with an edge that only alternative data can deliver. The platform has integrations with most major languages and analytical tools, such as API, R, Python, Excel, and Ruby.
Quandl’s mission is to inspire customers to make new discoveries and incorporate them into trading strategies. According to the Quandl website: “The world’s most powerful data lives on Quandl.” It’s no wonder that 14 out of 15 of the largest banks and 8 out of 10 of the largest hedge funds are using Quandl to make superior investment decisions.
The Quandl team predicts that financial data will serve as the primary driver of active investment performance over the next decade and is in fact one of the most important resources of the 21st century. Saving data analysts time, effort, and money by delivering data in accessible formats, Quandl boasts widespread use and popularity.
Hockeystick operates an online financial data platform for private equity funds, providing insight, data, and transparency to private markets, such as people, companies, investors, limited partners, and researchers. Fund managers use Hockeystick to accurately track, compare and predict company performance.
Hockeystick is an especially useful service for startups, and was in fact named for the shape of the steep growth curve that startups aspire to reach. Startups often struggle to disclose basic financial information such as cash flow, balance sheets, and profits and losses, making investors nervous or finicky. Investors and companies agree on what data will be shared through Hockeystick and how frequently.
Currently, more than 12,000 private companies and top Canadian funders belong to the Hockeystick network. Smart companies understand the importance of keeping investors informed and up to date on business, and Hockeystick presents a promising solution.
Sensibill hopes to put an end to receipt-stuffed wallets by allowing customers to access receipts directly from their bank accounts either on their desktop or mobile banking applications. Customers can use the service to manage receipts for returns, exchanges, expenses, accounting, and taxes.
According to a Sensibill case study, 47% of small business banking customers say they would switch banks if better mobile services were offered elsewhere. Sensibill’s easy-to-use receipt solution helps banks retain their customers while providing those same customers with better resources to manage their cash flow and expenses.
Sensibill founder and CEO Corey Gross says: “It is important to enable community banks to keep pace with innovation and equip their customers with the tools they need to manage their finances.” Since the future of documents is a paperless one, Sensibill’s receipt service is on a mission to help customers’ lead healthier financial lives.
Wealthsimple is an online investment manager that helps individuals build smart portfolios and achieve financial goals like paying down debt, saving for a home, or investing for retirement. Users simply sign up on the Wealthsimple platform, answer a few questions, and transfer money into their Wealthsimple account. The money is then used to purchase a diversified mix of low-fee Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) optimized for each users’ financial situation.
While the term “robo-advisor” was coined by the US media to describe an investment strategy with minimal human interaction, Wealthsimple claims their platform combines both technological and human elements. Designed by the smartest humans, Wealthsimple’s system nonetheless removes all the biases that human behavior can bring in so as to make the smartest financial investments.
Functioning as an intuitive, affordable, and human financial advisor, Wealthsimple takes the guesswork out of investing. Seeking to compete in the increasingly crowded digital investment advice market, Wealthsimple has just raised $51 million in funding from Power Financial Corp. We envision the company continuing to expand as more individuals learn to entrust their savings into the hands of “robo-advisors.”
Toronto is a dynamic FinTech ecosystem, home to 3 of the world’s top 25 banks and a highly educated tech workforce. These 6 companies inspire us by demonstrating how digital systems can be used to provide individuals and businesses with innovative and practical financial solutions.
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