At the time in Latvia, there were neither startup nor fintech databases, which is why Venture Faculty decided to create the most complete Latvian fintech landscape. In order to do that, already back in 2019, Venture Faculty using its knowledge and network started its work on gathering data and in 2020 joined forces with Dealroom.co, to create the most comprehensive landscape on Latvian fintech (click on text to see the database).
The landscape consists of 3 types of companies - fintech companies that are registered in Latvia, Company’s main operations are run from Latvia, or Companies that have been established by Latvian professionals outside the borders of Latvia (usually these companies are still operated in majority or partly from Latvia). The reason why the database might be incomplete is that the data are based on Venture Faculty's own research which was complemented by crowdsourced data, while at the same time the dataset is constantly being updated about two to three times a year, it still might have a few inaccuracies. All the data are publicly available and every person has a chance to give suggestions for improvements.
Companies included in the Landscape currently are categorized in the following categories: AML/KYC, Banking, Brokers, Crypto/Blockchain, Data/IT Solutions, Fintech Lenders, Payments, P2P/Crowdfunding, and an uncategorized group - Others. Currently, there are 139 active companies that are included in the landscape, which in the context of startups accounts for slightly more than 20% of the total Latvian startups.
Currently, the data shows that the most saturated segment in Latvian fintech is the Payments segment which has 34 companies listed in it. Not so far behind in terms of total numbers are Data/IT Solutions and P2P/Crowdfunding categories, which have 28 and 22 companies respectively. Fintech Lenders - the category that has a proven track record in Latvia consists of 18 companies, while the Crypto/Blockchain section is starting to catch up with having listed 17 fintechs. At the end of the list are Banking, Brokers and AML/KYC categories within the same order 5, 3 and 2 fintechs in each category. This leaves us with the final category, where we included companies that would rather not fit in a particular category. Therefore leaving them out as individuals under Others, where the total amount is 10.
During the timeframe of 2017 to 2019 the number of total fintech companies almost doubled. The three years were some of the best in terms of newly founded companies with skyrocketing growth percentages with over 25% growth in 2017 and about 15% in 2018 and 2019. What we are seeing now is that the numbers have been decreasing in the past two years. 2020 shows us 11 (growth at about 9%), while 2021 shows only 8 (5% growth) newly founded fintech companies.
As for the location, Latvian founders are showing a tendency to choose Latvia as their headquarters location instead of choosing UK, Estonia, Lithuania or Netherlands as it was during the previous years. From the data, it can be seen that in 2020 and 2021 only one Latvian-rooted company was established outside our borders, while the rest of them have headquarters in Latvia.
In terms of the attracted funding, there is a lot of information that is not publicly available, simultaneously there is not accounted debt financing, which makes up a big part in some of the sectors. While the cumulative funding data include only currently active companies by having excluded the dissolved and inactive companies. Therefore data of funding for Latvian fintech sector should not be considered as complete, however, the tendencies can be seen.
Comparatively the leading 3 segments in terms of total amount are also the top 3 in terms of attracted funding, while having a little bit different order. This time the leading category is Crypto/Blockchain with the total funding reaching €228 million, while the P2P/Crowdfunding segment remains in the second place, representing over €40 million in the total funding received. The final of the top three is the Payments segment, which can account for the funding amounting for about €30 million.
Latvian fintechs raised about €67 million and €74 million during 2020 and 2021 respectively, with total cumulative funding reaching €306 million and €380 million respectively. Looking at the cumulative data, we can see that the positive trend should continue over the next few years. Even though this year is still ongoing, received funding has passed the €30 million benchmark, reaffirming the continuous growth.
From the data it can be concluded that overall new fintech establishment has slowed down, from the past it can be seen that the fintech sector has been developing in a sectoral manner, which is driven by innovation and regulation. Back in time, online lending had its boom, until the moment when regulation came in place. Afterwards, a big boost was seen in payment services, which was boosted by SEPA payments and EU wide regulation. A few years back, the P2P and crowdfunding segment gained a high popularity, until now, when there is a regulatory framework in place and the segment has become more mature and filtered. Currently, new trends include new developments in crypto/blockchain, however, we see that Latvia has a room for improvement, to attract these companies to choose their establishment place as Latvia over neighboring countries.
A-Heads acquisition by Meawallet is another successful exit to mark with regards to software solutions startups and the latest being GoCardLess, which acquired Nordigen. These events point out to the tendency that Latvian startups are on the attention radar of such significant fintech giants as, for example, GoCardLess is.
Without acquisitions we also have seen a couple Initial Public Offerings, where in 2021 DelfinGroup achieved this significant landmark. Followed by the 2022 Indexo IPO which was oversubscribed by EUR 2,5 million. Two IPOs in two years is a significant number for the Latvian fintech environment, showing that there are companies that are able to reach such landmarks.
Additionally there have been a few other positive tendencies to emphasize, such as the Mintos 2020 crowdfunding round which was executed through Crowdcube platform. The company raised a total of EUR 7,2 million and it still is the largest crowdfunding campaign by a Latvian company. Also, the bonds issuance activity has increased over the past few years and fintech companies, for example, SunFinance, Eleving Group and others have issued bonds that are available on the regulated market.
We have seen an overall decrease in newly founded Latvian fintech companies, but there is no room for worry as there can be seen a few more significant signals that should be improving the overall look on the landscape. Firstly, the amended Startup Law in 2020, which posed more attractive requirements for the receival of the government support. Where before the amendments only 7 startups had received the support, but by June 2022 they were already 75. Also the 2021 amendments to the employee stock options pool (ESOP) law should have its impact in the near future as now also Limited Liability Company employees can receive their stock options if they are agreed upon. In the Latvian startup sphere these amendments are playing a more than important role.
In terms of FinTechs, the aforementioned factors are also supplemented by the efforts made by the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) with some significant improvements in the licensing regulations and support instruments. In 2021 the FCMC implemented two support instruments - The Innovation Hub and The Regulatory Sandbox. The Innovation Hub participants can receive direct advice from the FCMC experts on licensing, supervision, anti-money laundering and other areas, where The Regulatory Sandbox participants can test or verify their innovative financial product, services or business models in accordance with the plans agreed with the FCMC.
All these tools together with more regulations that are currently in development will continue to increase the attractiveness of Latvia as a FinTech center in the foreseeable future as the ecosystem and its regulations is becoming more attractive overall.