The Future Of Small Business Lending: Fintech 50 2021

Despite a trying year for small business, some fintech companies thrived by offering credit to buzzy startups and mom-and-pops alike, while increasingly making their platforms a one-stop shop for expense management.

Take Ramp, for example, which debuts on Forbes’ Fintech 50 after scoring a $1.6 billion valuation within 14 months of launching. Its zero-fee corporate credit card comes equipped with an expense-management platform that uses algorithms to analyze transactions and identify savings opportunities for businesses—an opportune feature amid a global pandemic. “When March, April and May came around, this suddenly started to mean the difference between making it through the next month and helping keep more and more folks on payroll,” says CEO Eric Glyman. 

Meanwhile, list-staple Brex, which is now making a play in banking, landed a $425 million funding round in April, catapulting its valuation to $7.4 billion from just $3 billion a year prior. During the pandemic year, Brex headed up efforts to help clients apply for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable loans for small business.

Another corporate card firm that almost made the list: Utah-based Divvy, which has pulled in more than 13,000 clients (and even wooed a buyer) in its mission to kill expense reports. This month, acquired the three-year-old startup, which was valued at $1.6 billion in January, for $2.5 billion—making it ineligible for the Fintech 50, which features only still private companies.

The crop of corporate card startups has fared far better than more traditional fintech lenders, many of which struggled during the pandemic. Kabbage, for example, drops off the Fintech 50 after being acquired by American Express in August for an undisclosed amount. The company paused its lending operation last March, and AmEx ultimately opted against scooping up its pre-existing loan portfolio.

Here are this year’s most innovative business-to-business lending companies in fintech:


Headquarters: San Francisco 

Fast-growing suite of offerings includes its original corporate credit card designed for startups (with rewards tilted toward travel expenses); a corporate cash management account; and a new online dashboard that combines those with expense tracking software. Has applied for its own FDIC-insured, Utah-chartered industrial bank. 

Funding: $857 million from Y Combinator Continuity, DST Global, Kleiner Perkins and others

Latest valuation: $7.4 billion

Bona fides: An estimated 20,000 customers, including Airbnb and Carta 

Cofounders: Co-CEOs Henrique Dubugras, 25, and Pedro Franceschi, 24, started Brex after dropping out of Stanford


Headquarters: New York City

Corporate credit card offering unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a free expense-management platform that uses machine learning to flag wasteful spending, helping the average customer save about $100,000 each year. Customers can tack on additional features, including off-card expense reimbursement.

Funding: $170 million from D1 Capital, Coatue Management, Stripe and others

Latest valuation: $1.6 billion

Bona fides: Since launch a year ago, more than 1,000 clients—including Clubhouse, Marqeta and Planned Parenthood—have used Ramp to process nearly $1 billion in transactions

Cofounders: CEO Eric Glyman, 31, CTO Karim Atiyeh, 31, and chief product officer Gene Lee, 30, started Ramp after selling an online savings startup to Capital One