European fintech doesn’t need much of an introduction. The three most highly valued startups in Europe — Klarna, Checkout.com and Revolut — are fintechs, and so are 35% of unicorns. The sector has grabbed an average of 22% of total European funding over the past five years, and accounted for roughly 15% of all deals in the same period.
It’s no wonder fintech has been so attractive to investors — exits have been lucrative, regulators friendly and consumers and businesses can’t get enough of new digital tools. Startups have built one of the most dynamic — and relatively profitable — sectors in the ecosystem.
But which companies are going to lead the way for fintech in the future? We’ve ranked the promising startups that we think are the ones to watch in 2022.
Although some have speculated that fintech’s high valuations can’t last forever, especially given the downturn in public markets, the sector hasn't shown signs of slowing down.
Between 2011 and 2021, European fintechs have raised an eye-watering total of $73.5bn — and 2021 accounted for 40% of that, 36 times the amount in 2011.
Investors have already written $8bn in cheques so far in 2022, a large portion of which has gone to megarounds for existing European giants.
Neobanks and payment solutions (including buy now, pay later) are still sector heavyweights, but new startups are blooming and subsectors expanding, particularly those less sensitive to macroeconomic instability. Some areas within fintech that have attracted funding and interest recently are embedded finance and insurance, crypto and DeFi, and wealthtech solutions.
Scrambling through regulatory hurdles, crypto and DeFi startups have won over investors with €3bn in funding last year, seven times the 2020 amount, as top talent jumps ship from the early fintechs and specialist funds set up offices across the continent.
Heavy lifters from embedded finance have also seen spikes in funding, as improved tech stacks and infrastructure facilitate the adoption of financial solutions outside the sector. Similarly, wealthtechs have cashed some big cheques, allowing greater access to credit and financial tools to wider user bases.
Not all traditional financial hubs have picked up on new fintech trends, however. London is by far the most active hub, followed by Berlin and Paris. On the other hand Frankfurt, Madrid and Milan, homes to some of the biggest stock exchanges in Europe, are struggling to attract consistent funding.
But new trends may be settling ahead. The UK’s unchallenged lead is narrowing, as other hubs and ecosystems gain ground and pour funding into the sector.
Our ranking set out to discover the startups to watch across all trends and subsectors in 2022. While we prioritise younger startups, we included all relevant ones, and at least one per European country (where possible).
For in-depth analysis of earlier stage companies across all sectors, visit our intelligence briefing catalogue here.