In the first quarter of 2019, the fintech and payments industry saw several high-value mergers and acquisitions, including the acquisition of WorldPay by FIS for $43b, the largest fintech acquisition to date. The industry also saw global fintech investments amount to $9.15bn from 445 deals, with a 5.78% growth in total funding compared to Q1 2018, where 429 fintech start-up deals raised $8.65bn.

Here’s a deeper look at the start-ups that reached unicorn status (over $1bn in valuation) so far in 2019.


Tencent-backed German digital challenger bank raised $300m in a funding round, increasing its valuation to $2.7bn. Only six other European fintech firms hold similar valuations. N26 boasts of 2.5 million customers across 24 countries in the Eurozone, N26 also has plans to launch in the US soon. Their unique ‘Spaces’ – goal-tracking sub-accounts for savings – are used by 165k customers and currently holds €130m. Customers hold €1bn in N26 accounts.


Valued at $1.5bn, San-Francisco headquartered mobile bank Chime raised $200m in a Series D funding round, making it the highest funded US digital challenger bank. Targeting millennial customers who demand an easy-to-use banking service, Chime offers the same without any overdraft, minimum balance or monthly service fees. The bank also doesn’t charge any foreign transaction or transfer fees. So far, the bank has over 1m customer accounts.


Cross-border money transfer service Airwallex, founded in Melbourne and headquartered in Hong Kong reached unicorn status with a $100m Series-C funding round that increased its valuation to $1bn. Competing against international payments giants such as PayPal and Western Union, the three-year old start-up offers international payments and transfers at competitive interbank rates for SMEs and businesses. Customers can set up a global bank account with their local bank details allowing them to access speedier and cheaper transfer rates.


Liquid is a Tokyo-based cryptocurrency trade platform that reached $1bn valuation in April 2019 in a Series-C funding round backed by investors including venture fund IDG Capital and crypto-mining giant Bitmain Technologies Ltd. Previously known as Quoine, Liquid was founded in 2014, and has secured a coveted crypto-exchange license and handled more than $50bn in cumulative trading volume. Liquid is the second fintech startup in Japan to reach unicorn status.

Business payments company, based in Palo Alto, California also reached unicorn status in April 2019. A cloud payments system, the platform automates, streamlines and controls the payments process that saves 50% of the time typically spent on the same. The latest funding round investments in the fintech start-up was led by Franklin Templeton amounted to $88m in funding, leading to a $1bn valuation. has three million members, managing more than $60 billion a year.


London-based, previously known as Opus Payments, reached a $2bn valuation in its latest funding round amounting to $230m, allowing it to reach unicorn status. The payments processing platform allows businesses to process and accept cross-border payments from a variety of sources including credit and debit cards, online banking, PayPal, Apple Pay and other eWallets. Some of their notable clients include Deliveroo and TransferWise.


One of the most recent start-ups to achieve unicorn status, Carta, a platform that allows users to buy, sell and trade private company stocks and shares, has received a $1.7bn valuation. Based in San Francisco, the start-up closed a Series-E funding round with $300m led by Andreessen Horowitz.