As the sun sets on 2020 and we look back at this past year nearly everything is viewed through the lens of the pandemic. Many fintech companies did surprisingly well while others, particularly in the lending space, struggled. When we look at the year as a whole we see that it was M&A activity that consistently showed up in the news, some related to the pandemic, some not. But the biggest story 0f the year, in my opinion, was how fintech came to the aid of millions of small businesses in the PPP. Here are my top fintech news stories of 2020 (with my usual focus on lending and digital banking):
Rob Frohwein, CEO and Co-Founder of Kabbage, said it best on the LendIt keynote stage this year: “Kabbage was built for the PPP”. So, it was was for many fintech lenders in the small business space. Tasked with having to develop new systems for the Paycheck Protection Program in a matter of days, rather than months, the fintech industry responded and helped provide a huge number of small businesses with the loans they needed, saving millions of jobs in the process. It was not just Kabbage, we had Cross River Bank and Square as well as the loans marketplaces like Lendio leading the way.
Credit Karma has almost singlehandedly increased the awareness of credit scores for tens of millions of Americans over the last decade. Intuit realized the value in the incredibly rich dataset that Credit Karma has created and wanted that, and the huge customer base, for themselves. And they were willing to pay to the tune of $7.1 billion. In the end this deal closed for $8.1 billion earlier this month with Credit Karma having to divest their fledgling tax preparation business, it was sold to Square for $50 million. For more on this deal read this interesting piece in Fortune.