SMB Fintech Stack (Source: Canapi)

The first pure-play online bank Security First Network Bank (SFNB) launched in 1995, just a year after Amazon.com. But unlike ecommerce, digital-only banking was slow to catch on. The legacy players held their market share by providing digital services deemed “good enough” to retain customers loath to switch banks.

But that began changing about 5 years ago, first in the UK, then elsewhere as well-financed digital players started making inroads with consumers. There was Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Nubank, Chime, just to name a few. But we still haven't seen a breakout small business bank.

In the adjacent SMB lending market, digital lenders, Kabbage, Square, Paypal, Amazon, Brex, and others are grabbing significant share. But here is not yet a place where small businesses flock to get deposit, payment, and financing needs met in a single interface.

So who are the best digital challenger business banks? Let's start with our definition.

  1. Must provide deposit and debit/charge card services (eliminates Kabbage, and most SMB lenders)
  2. Must predominantly focus on small-business financial services (eliminates Paypal, Amazon, Block)
  3. Must primarily digitally (rules out Wells Fargo, BofA, and the majority of traditional banks*)
  4. Founded since 1999.

*Note: We do include divisions of traditional FIs if they operate under a separate autonomous brand, such as Zions ZiFi.

For the latest table, check our Challenger Bank table

Challenger of the Month

HQ: NYC  |  Founded: 2016  |  Raised $136M (including $131M in 2021)  |  Website visits: 960,000 (Feb '22)  | App downloads: 53,000 (last 30 days) | Employees: 126  |  Article citations: 75  |  Linkedin: 10,300 followers | Trustpilot: 3.8 (1,080 reviews) | iOS app: 4.8 (9,600 reviews)

 

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.



Leading USA digital small business banks
ranked by our FAB score (Fintech Attention Barometer*)

Rank Company FAB* Review Date Founded HQ Funding
$M
Visits
(Apr '22)
1 Mercury 287 23 May '22 2017 SF $152 1,100,000
2 NOVO 277 23 May '22 2016 NYC $136 1,100,000
3 Found 233 23 May '22 2019 SF $75 960,000
4 Oxygen 187 23 May '22 2018 SF $25 900,000
5 Rho 109 23 May '22 2018 NYC $205 24,000
6 Lili 68 23 May '22 2018 NYC $80 170,000
7 Relay FI 51 23 May '22 2018 Toronto $19 200,000
8 NorthOne 44 23 May '22 2016 NYC $23 200,000
9 Nearside (Hatch) 37 23 May '22 2018 SF $77 10,000
10 Grasshopper 23 23 May '22 2016 NYC $131 17,000
11 Winden 19 23 May '22 2021 LA $5 67,000
12 Baselane 14 23 May '22 2020 NYC $8 27,000
13 ZilBank 8 23 May '22 2021 Dallas $0 10,000

 

Unlaunched
Zifi (Zions Bank 7 23 May '22 2022 Utah INA INA
Nophin 7 23 May '22 2021 NYC $3 INA
Vergo 6 23 May '22 2021 NYC INA 1,500
Guava 3 23 May '22 2018 NYC INA INA
Kuma 0 23 May '22 INA LA INA INA

Source: FintechLabs, Pitchbook, Crunchbase, Craft, SimilarWeb, SEMrush; 23 May 2022

* 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.
**Added April 14, 2022
***Funding is the amount invested into the company as either equity or debt.
****Our business model depends on revenue from referrals. So anytime you see a referral link in the URL, we potentially earn a fee upon establishing a new funded account (thanks!).


Challenger SMB Banks Currently Active in the United States


1. Mercury Technologies
FAB Score = 287
– HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
– Founded: 2017
– Raised $152M (Crunchbase) including $120M in 2021
– Website visits: 1.1 million (Apr 2022; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 149 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 13 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 10,300 followers (268 employees)
Twitter: 15,200 followers
Trustpilot: 4.0 (349 reviews)


2. Novo
FAB Score: 277
– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2016
– Raised $136M including $131M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– App downloads (last 30 days): 53,000 (Apptopia)
– Website visits: 1.1 mil (Apr 2022; SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 126 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 75 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 10,300 followers (191 employees)
Twitter: 2,200 followers
– Industry awards: 4 (Novo)
– Integrations: Wise, Xero, Slack
TrustPilot: 3.8 (1,080 reviews)
iOS app: 4.8 (9,400 reviews)

 


3. Found 
FAB Score = 233
– HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
– Founded: 2019
– BaaS partner: LendingClubBank
– Raised $75.2M ($60M in Feb 2022; $12.75M in 2021) (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 960,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 40 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 0 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 1,600 followers (47 employees)
Twitter: 663 followers
Trustpilot: 3.4 (3 reviews)
iOS: 4.8 (2,900 reviews)


4. Oxygen
FAB Score = 187

– HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $24M prior to 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 900,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 81 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 20 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 4,500 followers (85 employees)
Twitter: 1,700 followers
Trustpilot: 2.7 (100 reviews)
iOS app: 4.8 (19,100 reviews)


Image

5. Rho
FAB Score = 109
– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $205M including $200M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Feb 2022): 24,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 80 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 20 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 3,100 followers (124 employees)
Twitter: 844 followers
– Trustpilot: No reviews


6. Lili
FAB Score = 68
– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $80M (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Feb 2022): 170,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 80 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 15 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 7,500 followers (86 employees)
Tiktok: 240,000 followers; 600,000 likes
Trustpilot: 4.0 (181 reviews)

7. Relay FI
FAB Score: 51
– HQ: Toronto
– Founded: 2018
– Partner bank: Evolve
– Raised $19M including $15M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 200,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 56 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 3 (Google News)
Linkedin: 2,100 followers (61 employees)
Twitter: 840 followers
TrustPilot: 4.4 (313 reviews)
iOS: 4.1 (60 reviews)

 


8. NorthOne
FAB Score: 44
– HQ: NYC/Toronto
– Founded: 2016
– Raised $23.3M prior to 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 200,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 98 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 18 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 6,900 followers (104 employees)
Twitter: 2,530 followers
TrustPilot: 3.7 (114 reviews)
iOS app: 4.7 (1,900 reviews)


9. Nearside (formerly Hatch)
FAB Score = 37
– HQ: SF
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $77M including $58M in 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 10,000 (SimilarWeb)
– Employees: 70 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 4 (Crunchbase)
Twitter: 759 followers
Linkedin: 1,200 followers (93 employees)
– TrustPilot: no reviews
iOS: 4.3 (86 reviews)

 


10. Grasshopper Bank
FAB Score = 23

– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2016
– Raised $131M prior to 2020 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 17,000 (SimilarWeb)
Employees: 60 (Pitchbook)
– Citations: 10 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 11,500 followers (83 employees)
Twitter: 817 followers
– Trustpilot: No reviews

11. Winden
FAB Score = 19
– HQ: LA
– Founded: 2021
– Raised: $5M
– Website visits (Apr 2022): 67,000

12. Baselane
FAB Score: 14
– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2020
– Raised: $8M in 2021 (AmericanBanker)
– Website visits: 27,000 (Apr 2022)

13. Zilbank
FAB Score = 8
– HQ: Dallas, TX
– Founded: 2021
– Raised: INA
– Website visits: 10,000 (Apr 2022)

 


Unlaunched

Zifi (Zions Bank)
– HQ: Salt Lake City, UT
– Founded: 2022
– Raised: NA (unit of Zions Bank)
– Website visits: 18,200 (Mar 2022; SEMrush)
Linkedin: 9 followers (4 employees)

Vergo
– HQ: NYC
– Founded: 2021
– Raised $100,000 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Mar 2022): 3,100 (SEMrush)
Employees: 20 (Linkedin)
– Citations: 1 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 208 followers (20 employees)
– Trustpilot: NA

Guava
– HQ: NYC
– Founded 2018
– Raised: Unknown (Crunchbase)
– Website visits (Mar 2022): 1,900 (SEMrush)
– Employees: 2 (Pitchbook)
Linkedin: 505 followers (3 employees)

 


Challengers Closed to New Accounts


Solid (was Wise) >> pivoted to Fintech as a Service in 2021
FAB Score: 386
– HQ: SF
– Founded: 2018
– Raised $18M prior to 2021 (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: 1.9 million (Mar 2022; SEMrush)
– Employees: 126 (Pitchbook)
– Articles: 4 (Crunchbase)
Linkedin: 2,020 followers (56 employees)

 


14. Joust (acquired by ZenBusiness, 30 July 2020; currently referring customers to Radius Bank)
– Target: Freelancers
– HQ: Austin, TX
– Founded: 2017
– Raised: $11M (Crunchbase)
– Website visits: Unknown
– Employees: 18 (Pitchbook)
– Citations: 5 (Crunchbase)
– Twitter followers: 448
– Trustpilot: NA
– iOS: 4.1 (28 reviews)


15. Seed (Acquired by Cross River Bank currently closed to new customers)
– HQ: San Francisco Bay Area
– Founded: 2014
– Raised $5.2M (2015) (Crunchbase)
– App downloads (last 30 days): 425 (Apptopia)
– Website visits: 210 (May 2021; SEMrush)
– Number of employees: 12 (Pitchbook)
– Citations: 4 (Crunchbase)
– Twitter: 810 followers


Addendum: Other SMB/SME challenger banks around the world (not a definitive list):

UK

Germany

Australia

France

Rest of world