Voice of the Industry

Relevant startups to watch and key developments for 2022–2023

Monday 31 July 2023 07:46 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

Alfredo Gomez Soria, Senior Manager, Fintech Corporate Partnerships at Plug and Play Tech Center, elaborates on today’s relevant startups to watch, unveiling their unique value propositions.


Plug and Play Tech Center is at the forefront of the fintech industry, driving corporate-startup innovation across the globe. Thanks to its global reach – across more than 50 locations in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC –, the Plug and Play ecosystem has its radar everywhere to be able to detect trends at an early stage.

Small and medium business tech

In the fintech payment sector, the years 2022–2023 saw growth in small and medium-sized business technology – SMB tech, primarily in the US. B2B payment providers like Hopscotch and Quickly allow SMB companies to better manage and control their cash flow by offering assistance with instant invoicing and bill payments. Another trend is fintech solutions that help to automate payment operations when, for example, initiating credit transfers and managing direct debits. The startups to keep an eye on here are Atlar, the treasury operating system, Nilus, a holistic financial operations platform, and Statement, a platform that allows users to manage all finance operations in one place.


Vast digital adoption in the pandemic, a rising population of young tech-savvy citizens, and the increasing use of smartphones in Southeast Asia led to the launch of numerous mobile wallet services, backed by government initiatives to boost cashless transitions in the region. Among the examples are GrabFin for digital payments, insurance, lending, and wealth management, and PayNow, a near-instant real-time payment system developed by the Association of Banks in Singapore.

Open Banking

In Europe, the fintech industry is one of the leading tech sectors with Open Banking booming in France and Germany. Open Banking offers users more flexibility and control over their payments, financial management, and credit decisions. Innovative Open Banking solutions improve customer experience and increase revenue streams. Among the startups that are clearly showcasing this trend are Treezor, the European Banking-as-a-Service leader, and Bridge, a financial data company that provides payment initiation and account information services.

B2B payments

Payments innovations in Europe have been boosted by EU regulations and strongly pushed forward by COVID-19. B2B payments grow throughout the European region: according to Statista’s Digital Market Insights, in 2023, digital payments in Germany are expected to account for EUR 239 billion in transactions. The list of innovators in business transactions includes Mondu which provides payment solutions to help B2B companies grow, GetPaid which enables payments for platforms and marketplaces, and Billie – the leading provider of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions for B2B.

Among the European startups that aggregate all payment operations in one place and allow businesses to automate payables and receivables are Payer, the B2B payments platform that offers B2B SignUp, B2B Checkout, and AR Automation solutions, Paddle, the complete payments, tax, and subscriptions solution for SaaS, and Bits Technology, the platform that both orchestrates and automates the management of other fintechs’ infrastructure providers with a low-code experience.

In Latin America, the Brazilian financial sector remains one of the most attractive segments for venture capitalists. Brazil’s Central Bank has been offering favourable conditions for companies to build innovative solutions. Launched in 2020 and backed by the Central Bank, the instant payment system called Pix found its way into the Brazilian economy and brought to life the next generation of fintech startups such as Noh, Brazil’s shared card, and Pagaleve, a new Pix-based retail instalment payment method for buyers and sellers. 

Decentralised finance 

Blockchain developments boosted the growth of the decentralised finance market. According to the latest research study published by Zion Market Research, the global DeFi market is expected to surpass USD 232.20 billion by 2030. German-based fintech startups like Micobo, Bitbond, and Cashlink are offering their customers infrastructure for tokenized assets to help them digitise their financial products and transactions securely. 

Finance in the metaverse 

Blockchain technology – along with cryptographic tokens – enables the evolution towards the metaverse, an immersive 3D experience that allows people to interact, bringing the internet towards Web3. Cryptocurrencies are getting more used for the purposes of asset ownership verification and transactions occurred in online shopping, gaming, socialising, and other activities in the metaverse. 

Three major elements of finance in the metaverse are NFTs (Non- Fungible Tokens), virtual currencies, and virtual marketplaces. 

NFTs are unique digital assets – for example, collectible items or virtual real estate – that, thanks to a blockchain, allow for verification of authenticity and easy tracking of ownership. NFT is often used to buy and sell assets in the metaverse. Among the especially notable startups that provide platforms to facilitate NFT-based commerce and trading are Bitski, which offers Wallet-as-a-Service, Mojito, a Web3 consumer engagement platform, and NiftyKit, a SaaS platform for artists to sell digital collectibles. 

Virtual currencies are the major element for purchasing virtual assets in the metaverse. They can be used for virtual transactions or exchanged for traditional currency. The Spanish-based fintech startup called Criptan offers crypto solutions for businesses and individuals. The Lithuanian-based CoinGate acts as the payment gateway, offering cryptocurrency payment processing services for businesses. 

Virtual marketplaces are places where users buy and sell digital assets using virtual currencies. The virtual marketplaces in the metaverse provide investment opportunities for both individuals and businesses. For example, SuperRare is the digital art market on Ethereum that makes it easy to create, sell, and collect rare digital artworks. The world’s largest Web3 marketplace for NFTs and crypto collectibles is OpenSea. This peer-to-peer marketplace includes digital art, gaming items, and other virtual assets backed by a blockchain. 

Virtual economy is being driven by blockchain technology and the increasing popularity of virtual environments, NFTs, and virtual currencies. Metaverse startups are at the forefront to transform the digital world with immersive experiences in the future. 

Our analysis of key payment trends for 2023 encompasses SMB tech growth, e-wallet adoption, Open Banking prominence, B2B payment expansion, decentralised finance impact, and the rise of virtual currencies and marketplaces. As payments keep changing, businesses must adapt quickly to new technologies and customer preferences to stay competitive in the ever-evolving market. 

As the largest innovation platform globally, Plug and Play stands at the forefront of fintech innovation and trend detection. By leveraging our global presence and extensive ecosystem of over 70 corporate partners, such as BNP Paribas, CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, and Raiffeisen Bank International, we have successfully accelerated over 2,000 startups and backed multiple fintech unicorns, such as N26, Honey, Kustomer, Flutterwave, and Payactiv, establishing our leadership in driving corporate-startup collaboration. 

Plug and Play Fintech activities are focused on five innovation areas: 

  • Banking: SME, corporate, and retail banking, value-adding services – e.g., pensions, customer experience, green finance, cash management, security, etc. 

  • Capital markets: asset and wealth management, alternative securities, ESG, commodity trading, assets tokenization, etc. 

  • Lending: credit scoring, consumer lending, SME and corporate lending, mortgage, P2P lending, alternative lending, etc. 

  • Payments: mobile payments, A2A payments, payment infrastructure, payment processing, digital wallets, P2P/P2B payments, FOREX, B2B payments 

  • Technology: Open Banking APIs, core banking, IoT in banking, AI/ML in finance, customer segmentation, digital identification/ identity management, blockchain, etc. 


Startups to watch 2023

This article was first published in ‘The Global Overview of Payments Providers 2023’, the most recent market overview and analysis of key payment providers in the B2B and B2C commerce payment ecosystem.

About Alfredo Gomez Soria

Alfredo leads Plug and Play flagship Corporate Partnerships for Financial Services in continental Europe. Based out of Frankfurt, Germany, he connects leading corporations with startups in order to obtain pilots and contracts – and explore strategic investment opportunities.



About Plug and Play Tech Center

Plug and Play Tech Center is the innovation platform, connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, and others. We offer corporate innovation programmes, organise startup acceleration programmes, and have built an in-house VC to drive innovation across multiple industries where we’ve invested in hundreds of successful companies, including Dropbox, Honey, N26, PayPal, etc.

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Keywords: payments , ecommerce, fintech, startup, B2B payments, e-wallet, Open Banking, digital payments, banks, metaverse, blockchain, NFT, cryptocurrency, marketplace, lending, digital identity
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Plug and Play
Countries: World
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