Trends and Technology

The History and Evolution of the Fintech Industry

July 13, 2021
The C2FO Team

What is fintech? What do fintech companies do? This graphic walks you through how the industry got started and has evolved. 

The term “fintech” has become a common way to describe any business that uses technology to conduct financial transactions. These days, when you think about fintech, you probably imagine Silicon Valley start-up companies, mobile funding solutions and cryptocurrencies. 

However, the history and evolution of fintech are much broader and more inclusive than that. In fact, you can trace fintech all the way back to — not the Internet, not the 2008 financial crisis — but to the 1850s, shortly before the Civil War! 

“Fintech,” after all, describes the blending of technology and finance to improve upon traditional methods of delivering financial services. That journey started several decades before you could download an app on your phone and make a transaction with the push of a button. 

While many people believe that fintech stands for the replacement of traditional banking, some of the most successful fintech companies have been ones like Plaid and Venmo that have brought greater efficiencies to traditional financiers. 

The graphic below explains some of the key moments in the evolution and expansion of the fintech industry, starting in the 19th century to the present day.

The Origin of Fintech (1858-1967)  1858 — The first transatlantic cable connects North America and Europe. Queen Victoria and President Jame Buchanan exchange pleasantries via telegraph.  1918 — The Federal Reserve develops Fedwire, enabling it to move funds electronically to member banks.   1950 — The first universal credit card, which could be used at a variety of establishments, is offered by The Diner’s Club Inc.    The Adolescent Years (1967-2008) 1967 — Barclays Bank installs the first automatic teller machine.   1971 — NASDAQ begins operations as the world’s first digital stock exchange.  The 1990s — The rise of the Internet leads to digital banking platforms, giving consumers greater flexibility in managing their money.   1998 — Paypal launches as the first online payment system. The company hands over $3 billion in payments in its first three years.   The Modern Era (2008-today)   2009 — In the midst of the Great Recession, Bitcoin is introduced, followed by other cryptocurrencies fueled by blockchain technology.  2009 — Venmo is launched, allowing customers to transfer money via mobile phones. The company is acquired by PayPal in 2013.   2010 — C2FO enables accelerated payments between its first customers and their suppliers on March 17. The company goes on to become the largest global technology platform for working capital today.   2011 — Google launches Google Wallet, enabling consumers to manage money and make transactions on their smartphones.  2013 — Chime is launched as an all-digital, no-fee alternative to traditional banking. It has since grown to over 8 million account holders.   2013 — Plaid is launched as a platform that connects applications with users’ bank accounts.    2019 — The market experiences a surge in fintech start-ups valued at over $1 billion. Advances in AI and robotic process automation (RPA) enable greater efficiencies and quicker access to cash.    2021 — The fintech market is projected to grow at a 25% annual clip, surpassing $309 billion in valuation by 2022.



Sources: Emerging Payments Association,,,,, The Tech Report,

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