Apple Card: 12 Fintech Companies Driving Credit Card Innovation

Apple announced that it’s launching a credit card this summer called Apple Card.

In partnership with Goldman Sachs and MasterCard, the technology company is looking to disrupt a category that hasn’t seen breakthrough innovation in roughly 50 years.

As you’d expect, the card is closely connected to Apple Pay, which will eventually eliminate the need to carry anything but an iPhone or Apple Watch – well played Apple, well played.

I know what you’re thinking, “What if a restaurant or store doesn’t accept Apple Pay?”

Don’t worry, Apple’s rolling out a sleek card for that exact scenario. On the front, your name and the iconic Apple logo laser‑etched in titanium alloy with EMV microchip for added security.

When the dust settled from Apple’s announcement, I looked at Crunchbase’s dataset to see which companies have raised capital – from 2018 to present – to drive innovation in the credit card space.

Here’s what I uncovered (in no particular order).

Fintech companies driving credit card innovation


Latest round: Series C
Amount: $27M
Announced date: Nov 19, 2018

Plastiq enables customers to use a credit card for virtually any expense. Even expenses that traditionally require a check, such as rent. Through their service, customers can earn credit card rewards, early-payment discounts, and use cash flow in a way that makes the most sense for themselves.


Latest round: Series C
Amount: $125M
Announced date: Oct 5, 2018

San Francisco-based Brex, a fintech unicorn ($1B+ valuation), launched a corporate credit card for technology companies that enable them to access 20x higher limits, completely automate expense management, eliminate receipt tracking, and integrate with any accounting system.


Latest round: Series C
Amount: $19M
Announced date: Aug 27, 2018

Through machine learning technology and alternative data, Deserve helps millennials and Gen Z gain access to fair credit products. Their mission is to help the next generation of credit owners gain financial independence.


Latest round: Series A
Amount: £8M ($10.5M US)
Announced date: Jan 30, 2018

Spendesk is an end-to-end platform that creates one central location for controlling, managing, and tracking a company’s entire spending process. Customers get access to single-use virtual cards with a unique card number for each payment for safer online purchasing.


Latest round: Series B
Amount: $30M
Announced date: Jan 29, 2019

Have you ever looked at your credit card statement and scratched your head in confusion? What about reading credit card information on a bank’s website? All the financial jargon that comes with credit cards is off-putting and makes it harder for consumers to make informed decisions. Petal wants to solve this issue by making credit honest, simple, and accessible.

Tally Technologies

Recent round: Series B
Amount: $45M
Announced date: Jul 24, 2018

Tally Technologies is taking a different approach to credit cards. They’re solving the problem that customers have managing multiple credit cards by leveraging automation to make it easy to save money and pay down balances faster.


Latest round: Venture
Amount: $16M
Announced date: Nov 17, 2018

Zero is the first banking experience to combine the simplicity of a debit card with the cash back (and other rewards) of a credit card. Customers get access to a checking account, a credit card with great rewards, and an app that brings it all together seamlessly.


Latest round: Series B, secondary market round
Amount: $180M
Announced date: Oct 8, 2018

Nubank, based in São Paulo, Brazil, is on a mission to end the complexity surrounding finance in a country that has soaring interest rates. To make this a reality, Nubank issues a free credit card (no annual fee, no maintenance cost, free and unlimited bank transfers) that holders can use. Whenever a cardholder uses a Nubank credit card, the company gets a portion of the transaction from the establishment where the purchase was made.


Latest round: Venture
Amount: $3M
Announced date: Apr 24, 2018

Extend is a platform that enables business cardholders to share their credit card with employees and freelancers without ever exposing their card number or losing control over spend.


Latest round: Equity crowdfunding
Amount: £5M ($6.6M US)
Announced date: Jan 16, 2019

While currently in beta, JaJa partnered with Visa to create a mobile-first credit card with no fees, instant issuing, credit sharing, and more.


Latest round: Seed
Amount: $4M
Announced date: Jan 25, 2018

CreditStacks is partnering with Mastercard (the same company Apple is using for their credit card) and First Covenant Bank to issue premium credit cards to customers who are new to credit.

Olly Smart Credit Card

Latest round: Seed
Amount: Undisclosed
Announced date: Dec 12, 2018

Olly is a digital credit card built for India’s working masses and young people. Customers can use this card for day-to-day expenses and make re-payments via Olly’s app ensuring late fees are avoided. This ultimately helps build a good credit score in a shorter period of time.

Final thoughts

When a company has deep pockets, as Apple does ($245 billion cash on hand), and they enter a new market or category…everyone takes notice.

While having a billion dollar company enter your space can be nerve-racking, the good news is that the pace of innovation inevitably picks up. Not only is this great for consumers, but it’s also great for competition as companies of all sizes push themselves to challenge the status quo.

For a space that hasn’t seen very much breakthrough innovation over the years, Apple entering the space is just what the financial advisor ordered.

  • Originally published March 26, 2019, updated May 5, 2023