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Choose the Fintech company of the year

fintech company of the year
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2021 has proven to be an exciting year for fintech companies, born in the SEE region. We have seen impressive Series A and Series B rounds, local startups with an appetite for global expansion and landing partnerships with major financial institutions. 

To wrap up the year and acknowledge the progress made by SEE fintech leaders, The Recursive team shortlisted 10 companies from the region and now it’s your turn to vote and pick the fintech star of the year. 

The criteria for their selection was: 

  • They must have achieved a significant milestone in 2021 – funding round above €500K, regional or global expansion, user growth and growth in revenue.
  • There should also be a big market opportunity and a strong, dedicated team behind the startup.

We have selected SEE founded companies with local capital and teams, still based in our region. 

You can vote until December 22nd, 2021. The winner chosen by The Recursive community will receive: 

See the selected companies in the survey below and learn more about their solutions and significant milestones in the description below.

You think someone is missing from the list? Nominate it through the form. If it fits the criteria, we will add it to the list by December 7th. 

Who are the fintech stars in Southeast Europe?


Founded: 2020

Based in: Athens 

What they are building: A BNPL solution that aims to bring more affordable credit options to consumers using open banking data like income, savings, bills, expense management behavior, etc.

Milestones in 2021: Finloup raised €1M in a pre-seed round in November. They have 21 merchants in Greece, using their solution including one of the biggest fashion brands in the country, and plan to onboard at least 200 businesses in the next year. They are also on the lookout for expansion in the neighboring markets. 

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Founded: 2018

Based in: Bucharest 

What they are building:  A middleware financial API aggregation platform that connects businesses and fintechs with banks.

Milestones in 2021: Finqware raised €500K in January in a seed round led by the corporate venture capital arm of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI). The company used the money to develop its cloud multi-banking data aggregation infrastructure. Their platform is currently integrated in banks in Romania, Croatia and Greece. 


Founded: 2017 

Based in: HQ in London, but founded in Bucharest 

What they are building: personalized and low-code digital infrastructure for banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions to help them in their digital transformation journey

Milestones in 2021: Fintech OS raised $60M in Series B funding in April  to move forward with their international expansion. They are currently operating on four continents and over 20 markets. In November they upgraded their platform to include BNPL and split payment loans solutions among others. The company is currently valuated at $281m according to Dealroom estimate. 

Hellas Direct 

Founded: 2011

Based in: Nicosia, with offices in Athens

What they are building: digital insurance, specializing in providing car, motorcycle, and home insurance. 

Milestones in 2021: Hellas Direct raised €32M in June with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as a key investor. That brought the total amount the company has raised to €56M. Its plans for 2021-2022 included launching their own credit product and expanding to Romania. 


Founded: 2015 

Based in: Sofia 

What they are building: P2P lending platform that allows investors to build a portfolio of different loans to invest their funds in according to their chosen risk strategy and it provides funding to borrowers after assessing the credit risk. 

Milestones in 2021:  KLEAR received 800K funding from Bulgarian New Vision3 fund in June. In November the company reported above 1 M leva (0.5M) accumulated profit for its investors. 

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Founded: 2016 

Based in: Ljubljana 

What they are building: A BNPL solution which provides instant installment payment solutions in Slovenia and Croatia for online purchases. Unlike traditional loans, the whole process is digitized and it allows people to spread the repayment over a longer period of time.

Milestones in 2021: Leanpay raised a €2.5M series A round in November and are expected to launch their services in Hungary in 2022, followed by other CEE markets. Currently they work with 400 online retailers and managed to increase their year-to-year turnover three times in the first half of 2021. 


Founded: 2018

Based in: HQ in London, but the startup was founded in Sofia, where their product and business strategy will continue to be crafted. 

What they are building: An expense management platform, a one stop-shop for finance teams to manage their entire spending lifecycle from company cards, to bill payments and invoices. 

Milestones in 2021: Payhawk raised a $20M Series A round in April, followed by a historic for the Bulgarian tech ecosystem  $112M Series B round. Currently the valuation of the company is at $570M, which makes it an important contender for the title of the first Bulgarian unicorn. The transaction volume on Payhawk’s platform increased by 663% since their Series A. 


Founded: 2018 

Based in: HQ in London, but with offices in Sofia 

What they are building: software-based PoS, that allows merchants to accept payments directly on their phones without any hardware

Milestones in 2021: Phos raised € 2 M corporate round led by and with the money they intended to reach the US market. Among its clients are the Dutch challenger bank bunq and the London-based Stanchion Payments. The company is preparing to close Series A soon. So far their total funding amounts to €3.3M. 


Founded: 2017 

Based in: HQ in London, with offices in Athens and Nicosia

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What they are building: A personal finance app which leverages AI to analyze users’ bank transactions and tell them how much they can save or invest each month.

Milestones in 2021: Plum closed a €21 million in Series A funding in November, after it announced successfully closing of the first €12M in October. Their additional funding came through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. Plum announced a series of new features as well that will roll out in Q1 of 2022 – a Plum debit card, a US stock-trading product and a cryptocurrency-based product. 

Viva Wallet 

Founded: 2000

Based in: Athens 

What they are building: cloud-based neobank for SMEs, it offers merchants IBAN account specialized for specific local payment methods and credit services in each country. 

Milestones in 2021: In April Viva Wallet raised $80M with Chinese tech giant Tencent and EBRD as key investors. It was present in 23 countries in 2021 and is soon coming to Hungary and Sweden. Viva Wallet hasn’t disclosed their valuation publicly but according to local media they are one of the Greek contenders for $1+B valuation. Media also reported on  their upcoming partnership with JP Morgan, but the company hasn’t revealed any details yet. 


+++++++ Cast your vote for The Newcomer of the Year here. 

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Zornitsa Stoilova is Editor-in-Chief at The Recursive. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and the management of editorial teams.