Companies with a significant volume of credit/debit card payments rely heavily on payment processors to keep them afloat. Downtime equals lost revenue, so it’s not a function easily entrusted to a startup. That’s why there are fewer players in this category, and the three established ones (Adyen, Square, Stripe) continue to dominate the U.S. SMB market for third-party solutions. And notably, 2 of the 3 (Adyen, Square) have gone public, further improving trust.
(Note: We exclude the payment arms Amazon or Shopify here since they primarily serve their own marketplaces).

Interestingly, 4 of the 9 startups were launched in the past 4 years. But those 4 are much smaller with combined website traffic of under 200,000 per month. In comparison, the big 3 each have more than 1 million visits each day!

Years since founding:
10 to 20 years >>> 3 startups
5 to 9 years >>> 2 startups
1 to 4 years >>> 4 startups


Note: We divided the payment providers into four categories:

  1. Charge card and expense management (see list here)
  2. Bill payments and/or invoicing specialists (list here)
  3. Payment processors (below)
  4. Subscription management platforms (list here)

NEW: Looking for digital banks, lenders, payment providers, insurance or digital accounting for small businesses? Check out our latest lists: SMB online lenders (33) | SMB challenger banks (12) | SMB insurers (15) | SMB charge cards/expense management (16) | Billpay & invoicing (16)| Payment processors (7) | Subscription processors (7) | SMB digital accounting/bookkeeping (21)

The FAB Score Ranking (Fintech Attention Barometer) is a proxy for the size of a private fintech company.


Top U.S. Payment Processing Challengers**
(ranked by FAB score**)

Rank Was
(4/23)
Company FAB Score** Reviewed Founded HQ Total Funding ($M)*** Visits (May ’23)
1 1 Stripe 11,050 29 Jun ’23 2010 SF $ 8,700 58,600,000
2 2 Block/Square 5,130 29 Jun ’23 2009 SF $ 866 40,300,000
3 3 Adyen 4,190 29 Jun ’23 2006 Amsterdam $ 1,366 32,400,000
4 4 Balance 226 29 Jun ’23 2020 Tel Aviv $ 431 34,000
5 5 Nium 133 29 Jun ’23 2015 Singapore $ 288 140,000
6 7 PaymentCloud 85 29 Jun ’23 2016 LA $ 45 480,000
7 (t) NEW Helcim 28 29 Jun ’23 2020 Calgary, Canada $ 12 130,000
7 (t) 8 Link 28 29 Jun ’23 2021 SF $ 30 49000
9 9 Chargezoom 14 29 Jun ’23 2019 LA $ 12 27,000

Source: FintechLabs, 29 June 2023 using data from Crunchbase, SimilarWeb, Pitchbook

*Our business model depends on revenue from referrals and sponsors. When you see a referral link in the URL, we may earn a fee when a new account is started (thanks!). This can improve visibility on our website, but does not impact the company’s FAB score.
** The FAB score, Fintech Attention Barometer, is a proxy for the overall size of a private company since they typically do not release traditional metrics (# customers, deposits, AUM, etc). The score is based on VC funding, website traffic, mobile downloads, and the number of employees. It’s a work in progress, so expect changes in the formula.
***Funding invested into the company as either equity or debt.


Challenger Payment Providers in the United States


1. Stripe
FAB Score = 11,400 (up 700 from April)
– HQ: San Francisco
– Founded: 2010
– Raised $8.7B including $6.5B in 2023 and $600M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 58.6 (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 8,020 (Pitchbook), up 30 since April
– Articles: 3,800 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin: 661,000 followers (8,002 employees, up 240)
TrustPilot rating: 3.1 (12,000 reviews)

2. Block/Square
FAB Score = 5,130 (up 600)
– HQ: San Francisco
– Founded: 2009
– Went public Nov 2015 (NYSE:SQ) at $2.9B valuation
– Raised $870M including $11M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Revenue: $17.5B TTM
– Market cap: $38.8B (29 June 2023)
– Website visits: 40.3M (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 12,400 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Article citations: 8,500 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin:  515,000 followers (7,172 employees, up 235)
– Rating: 4.4  (3,970 reviews per TrustPilot)

3. Adyen
FAB Score = 4,190 (down 340)
– HQ: Amsterdam
– Founded: 2006
– Went public June 2018
– Raised $1.4B all prior to 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Market cap: $48.6B (29 June 2023)
– Revenues: $7.4B TTM (Yahoo Finance)
– Website visits: 32.4M (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 3,330 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Articles: 845 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin: 199,000 followers (4,196 employees, up 256)
– Rating: 4.7 (2,830 reviews per FeaturedCustomers)

4. Balance
FAB Score = 226 (up 2)
– HQ: Tel Aviv
– Founded: 2020
– Raised: $431M including $416M in 2022, $15M all in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 34,000 (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 96 (Pitchbook), up 9
– Articles: 27 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin:  6,000 followers (98 employees, up 5)
– Rating: 5.0 (Note: Only 5 reviews per Capterra)

5. Nium
FAB Score = 133 (down 2)
– HQ: Singapore
– Founded: 2015
– Raised $288M including $200M in 2021, $13M in 2022 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 140,000 (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 945 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Articles:  196 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin: 166,000 followers (1,027 employees, up 79)
– Rating: INA

6. PaymentCloud
FAB Score = 85 (up 30)
– HQ: LA (Sherman Oaks)
– Founded: 2016
– Raised $45M including $35M in 2022, $10M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 480,000 (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 86 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Articles: 10 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin:  1,800 followers (87 employees, down 1)
– Rating:  4.6 (16 reviews per Capterra)

7 (tie) Helcim
FAB Score: 28 (NEW)
HQ: Calgary, Canada
Founded: 2020
Raised: $ 12M (Crunchbase)
Website visits: 130,000 (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
Employees: 145 (Pitchbook)
Article citations: 14 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 7,600 followers (138 employees)
Trustpilot: 4.3 (274 reviews)

7 (tie). Link
FAB score = 28 (up 2)
HQ: SF
Founded: 2021
Funding: $30M, including $20M in 2023, $10M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
Article citations: 2 (Crunchbase)
Website visits: 49,000 (March 2023, SimilarWeb)
Employees: 40 (Pitchbook), unchanged
Linkedin: 1,400 followers (57 employees, up 22)

9. Chargezoom
FAB Score = 14 (up 3)
HQ: LA (Irvine)
Founded: 2019
Funding: $12M including $10M in 2022, $2M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
Web visits: 27,000 (May 2023, SimilarWeb)
Employees: 17 (Pitchbook), unchanged
Article citations: 11 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 2,100 followers (18 employees, up 7)

 


No longer accepting new business

Fast (winding down business)
– HQ: San Francisco
– Founded: 2019
– Raised $125M including $102M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 210,000 (May 2023; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 400 (Pitchbook), unchanged
– Articles: 110 (Crunchbase)
– Linkedin: 22,300 followers
– Rating: 4.5 (2,870 reviews per TrustPilot)

 

 


Note: We excluded PayPal from because they are more of an enterprise solution, and less importantly, was founded in 1998, so a little old/established for a “challenger” list.