MIAMI, Fla. — On Feb. 8, LendIt Fintech held an award show and dinner at the Lowes Beach Hotel in South Beach Miami for the 5th annual industry awards to celebrate the top fintech influences and innovators.
The awards event capped off two days of networking, overlooking the beach. In no particular order, these winners are the best of the best, a cross-section of hundreds of nominations submitted from Sept. 21 through Dec. 10, 2021.
Fintech Innovator of the Year: Nubank
The LendIt Fintech award Innovator of the year goes to the company that demonstrated a strong culture of transformation in the past year, producing groundbreaking changes in the industry. This year’s contenders show variety, from newly public neo banks, BNPL, lenders, and commerce ecosystem leaders.
Unfortunately, Nubank could not be in Miami; instead, a rep from QED, an early Investor in the Brazilian firm, accepted the award in their sted. But, Nubank contributed a video speech in honor of being named a nominee, presented by Arturo Nunez, chief marketing officer.
“When our founders created Nubank over eight years ago, no one thought it was possible to challenge the status quo of traditional banks in Latin America, and we did it,” Nunez said. “Today, Nubank is one of the largest digital banking platforms with over 48 million customers, in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia. Thanks to our innovative processes and tools, we save customers $4.8 billion in bank fees and help them save about 113 million hours in waiting.”
Phin Upham of Haymaker Capital presented the award. The judges heralded Nubank for finding a solution to the demand for inclusive banking in Lat Am.
“Nubank set out to solve a huge problem and has so far succeeded beyond any expectation,” the judges said. “Their high level of success is a testament to the tremendous need for their products and the company’s ability to deliver.”
Executive of the Year: Scott Sanborn, LendingClub
Executive of the year is for the senior executive who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, integrity, performance, and team-building within their company.
Sanborn flew in just in time for the awards dinner, joining several colleagues who were already in Miami for the Nexus Dealmakers Summit.
“As some of you in the audience will know, I think I’ve been around as long as LendIt and have seen this industry go through a lot of change,” Sanborn said. “I loved the description up there tonight because Lending Club has been able to change not due to me, it’s been a core group of super-committed people who stay true to this vision of using technology and data to lower the cost of credit. The path we took to get here has been a little windy but I could not be more excited about how we’re positioned today. So thank you, everyone.”
“Among a slate of incredibly impressive fintech executives, Scott stands out for having revitalized the company he leads,” the judges said. “He competes to win, as evidenced by his company’s audacious move, becoming the first US fintech to buy a bank.”
Finalists are a non-exhaustive list from many inspiring execs who do this while contributing to industry advancement.
- Jennifer Tescher, Financial Health Network
- Steve Smith, Finicity
- Jason Wilk, Dave
- Dave Girouard, Upstart
- Prashant Fuloria, Fundbox
Fintech Woman of the Year: Luvleen Sidhu
Like the top executive of the year category, but female fintech-focused: The award for the senior executive who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, integrity, performance, and a commitment to fostering gender diversity both within her company and in the industry at large.
Luvleen, in her second time winning the woman of the year, said she was grateful to be a part of the community and to represent BM Technologies this year after acquiring a bank, combining the best of fintech with the best of a banking charter.
“Thank you so much, everyone; you know, standing up here, I think the one feeling that’s falling through is deep gratitude. BM technologies had a wonderful year last year. Taking the company public — one of the first neobank and fintechs to go public to be profitable and to end the year with an announcement to acquire a bank,” Luvleen said. “Most importantly: having colleagues in the room tonight challenging the industry, and the insight, the passion you bring in this industry is such an honor and such an exciting thing to work beside and with you. So thank you so much for making this such a fun ride.”
“Luvleen provides outstanding leadership, fosters gender diversity, and harnesses wisdom beyond her years. As a public company CEO, she is a leader and role model for many,” judges said.
- Jo Ann Barefoot, AIR
- Wendy Cai-Lee, Piermont Bank
- Rania Succar, Intuit
- Stephany Kirkpatrick, Orum
- Rochelle Gorey, SpringFour
Innovation in Digital Banking: Plaid
As open banking, accessibility, and inclusivity become synonymous with the future of banking, this award goes toward the company that has demonstrated a strong culture of innovation, producing significant advances in digital banking technology in the past year.
“This industry giant continues to create groundbreaking technology that enables the growth of fintech,” judges said.
Top Consumer Lending Platform: LendingClub
Consumer lending is as hot as ever, from BNPL, Small-dollar lending, and innovation like early payroll access. This LendIt Fintech award goes to the top consumer lending platform based on a combination of loan performance, volume, growth, product diversity, and innovation.
“LendingClub continues to provide value through innovation,” judges said. “Their work in AI explainability is moving the industry forward.”
Top Small Business Lending Platform: SmartBiz Loans
Especially during the pandemic, SMB lenders helped support small businesses while quarantines kept customers away. These top contenders, among many, kept the economy running through successful loan performance, volume, growth, product diversity, and innovation.
“SmartBiz is helping to rebuild small businesses, crushing it with SBA loans and fast loan approvals,” judges said.
Top Real Estate Platform: LendInvest
At LendIt LatAm, Real Estate proved to be a significant fintech industry trend. This award goes to the top real estate platform based on a combination of loan performance, volume, growth, product diversity, and innovation.
“We love the vision,” judges said. “LendInvest understands all the technicals and is fast becoming a mainstream lender.”
- Kiavi (LendingHome)
Emerging Lending Platform: Wisetack
Online Lending has been a cornerstone of fintech since the beginning. The firms nominated for this LendIt Fintech award learn from the past and work toward the future, the award for a young company that demonstrates the most significant potential impact on the future of online lending.
“Wisetack posted impressive growth in 2021 in terms of customers, revenue, team, and funding. They expanded across industries while maintaining high customer satisfaction,” the judges said.
- SoLo Funds
CryptoFin: Cross River
A segment of fintech that ignited like wildfire this year, these finalists showed the best application of crypto technology in traditional finance. The winner of this award should demonstrate a vital bridge between traditional finance and crypto to encourage greater adoption.
“These fintech pioneers have been nimble and forward-thinking from the start,” the judges said. “Their Coinbase partnership underscores their ability to move the ball forward with each new innovation trend.”
Most Promising Partnership: Ocrolus & Plaid
In a year of endless consolidation and purchases, these partnerships symbolize that not every firm needs to buy out its competitor. This award goes to the company that has completed and publicly announced an innovative collaboration in the fintech community.
“We are bullish on this combination: two companies with great reputations driving efficiency and providing value to the end customer,” judges said.
- New Energy Nexus & Rise, created by Barclays
- Barclays & Anthemis Group
- OakNorth & Old National Bank
- TransUnion & Spring Labs
- Finicity & Tomo Credit
Top Service Provider: Manatt
Where would fintech be without the helping hands of experts? This award goes to the service provider, law firms, accountants, trusts, etc., that has demonstrated deep expertise, unique value, strong ROI, commitment to clients, and the fostering of a deeper understanding of fintech.
“Service Providers to the fintech industry are exceptional across the board,” judges said. “Manatt differentiated itself with its deep experience, fintech expertise, and impeccable reputation.”
- Klaros Group
- Millennium Trust
- Dechert LLP
- Goal Solutions
Top Technology Service provider: Amount
Without background infrastructure, fintech is nothing. This award goes to the technology company with the most significant impact on the fintech market.
“The future of financial services is reliant on how well we perform the function of “embedded finance,'” judges said. “This is a true leader in that category.”
- Galileo Financial Technologies
Excellence in Financial Inclusion: Tricolor
As the speakers at LendIt LatAm showcased, Financial Inclusion can be synonymous with success: succeed together or fail apart. This award goes to the company that has made the biggest difference in expanding access to financial services in new and innovative ways.
“Tricolor punches above its weight while solving mobility challenges among the 60 million-strong Hispanic population in the United States,” judges said.
Emerging Fintech Company: Atomic Invest
New for 2022, this is awarded to the most promising young fintech company in any vertical. Contenders are young, scrappy, and hungry companies with a real possibility of becoming a leader in their category in the years to come.
“Atomic is a cutting-edge company that provides advanced investing features,” judges said. “With a rich API suite that allows banks to democratize access to wealth-building tools.”