A brand naming analysis over 300 fintech startups & 10 years in Europe. This article is an update of the “Hi! My name is (what?)” series I published in 2018, (1) general trends in startups naming, (2) a focus on fintech & insurtech and (3) a list of practical tips to pick your startup name. Here, I’ll give an updated approach of fintech & insurtech branding trends over the past decade.
For early-stage startups, branding is key, but too often neglected. An effective branding conveys a clear message about the culture you want to build and can help your company be seen as a serious player. It’s also a way to express a different value proposition than current market players. Ideally, you want your startup name to be both meaningful and differenciated, easy to remember and easy to pronounce everywhere.
That’s the theory.
In reality, when looking at 300+ European fintech and insurtech names, things seem more complicated. Branding is about fashion. It’s about who’s in and who’s out. Whether aware or not, when picking a name for their startup, entrepreneurs make it belong to a group of peers that sound alike.
Let’s dive in the jungle of fintechs and insurtechs based on their names — and not on their value proposition nor on their last fundraising round. How can we categorize them? What are the major trends in this sector? Is there still some room for one startup to differentiate itself from others? Is your startup name ‘too 2019’, ‘too pre-Covid period’? which tribe do you belong to in terms of branding?
1. The ‘Back to basics’ tribe
Ancient languages are not (that) dead
First of all, since the 1990s, following Fortuneo, Criteo and Moneo Resto, many Fintech startups have used the -neo / -nea endings. Behind it, there’s probably the will to give a new impulse (neo means ‘new’ in Ancient Greek) to a sector that has long been viewed as conservative/old school. To name a few renewing this wave, Neo, Teeneo, Akeneo, Neofi, Cautioneo follow this trend. It seems like German fintechs particularly like sounding Greek (Hypatos, Myos, OpenGamma) or Latin (Omnius in Germany, Concirrus in the UK) — but French do as well (Alma) and so do Spanish ones to some extent(Arboribus).
The ‘no-risk’ branding players
Many B2B Fintech startups go straight to the point, by setting their name using “fin”, “pay”, “lend” or even “bank” or “cap” to be identified as pure players of the financial world. In what we could call those different ‘mafias’, there is no doubt about the positioning of the startup. More than 2/3 of them are B2B players, as a matter of fact.
- The Pay-X mafia
Most European fintechs belong to that group, including PayLead, PayGreen, Paymium, PayPerks, IziPay (accelerated by HUB612), Paytweak, Paypull, SharePay (part of Linxo), IPaidThat, Paylib, Payplug, Paytweak, HiPay, Paycar, MangoPay, PayinTech, Smile&Pay, VoxPay, Paypite, Wizypay, Paylead, Paytop, Payfit (all FR), and PayFlow (SP), Satispay (IT,UK), TraxPay (DE), Payhawk (UK), Paysend (UK), SatoshiPay (UK), Payaut (NL), PaymentSense (UK), Easypay (PT), Abypay (PT).
- The Fin-X mafia
Many startups won’t go too far from their domain by including the beginning of Finance into their name: Finkey, Finpoint, Finalgo (accelerated by HUB612), Finve (accelerated by Numa), Fintecture, Fintank, Finvex, Finextra, FinTrack, Fintch, Finense. In the rest of Europe, we have Fintonic (SP), Fincompare (DE), Finnovista (SP), Finteca (SP), Finnu (SP), Finasoft (DE), Anyfin (SE), StudentFinance (PT).
- The Lend-X mafia
To make things clear, some fintechs state they enable lending money, either in B2B or B2C: Lending Club (USA), LendUp (USA), Lendify (SE), Lenddo (SG), lendolib (FR), Lendinvest (UK), Lendarty (DE). Pretto, HelloPret are the French version of it (prêt meaning loan), while Hipoo is the Spanish version (hipoteca meaning mortgage).
In addition to these three groups, there are all the other ‘mafias’ with pragmatic names stating their positioning by incuding a prefix or suffix as:
- -Cash (CashPad, CashBee, Cashforce),
- -Check (Checkout.com),
- -Card (Wirecard, Mooncard, GoCardless),
- -Iban (Ibanfirst, Ibani),
- -Money (Moneytrack, Monisnap, Monese, Monedo, Oval Money),
- -Bank (Bankin, eBankit, Memo Bank, Starling Bank, ClearBank, Bankable, InBank),
- -Cap (Novicap, Izicap, Agicap, Finexkap, CapitalonTap, Captio, Capito, Capdesk, Spotcap),
- -Transac (Easytransac, Transaction connect),
- -Transfer (Transferwise),
- -Tax (Tacotax, Taxdown, Taxfix, Skiptax),
- -Trade (Tradeplus24, SmartTrade, Sidetrade, TradeIn).
Regarding insurtechs, the same move can be noticed with startups called Assurup, Assurly, Insurello, Insurly, Insurwave, or Assurware.
Recently with the rising of blockchain-based fintechs, we have noticed a lot of startup names starting with -Bit like Bitwala (DE), Bitpanda (Austria), Bitbond (DE), Bitstamp (UK), Bitfury (NE), -Token (Tokeny, TokenPay, TokenMarket) and Crypto- (Crypto.com, Cryptio, Cryptolia, Cryptopay).
What mafia will be coming next? Following the Gartner hype curve, can we expect a lot of Quant-X players (Quantilia, Quantcube, Qantev, Quantumrock)…?
2. The friendly tribe
We are your friends
Following a strong fashion trend with the humanization of brands, many fintechs set their branding names using real human names, that have frequent occurence in the targeted markets, creating a familiar feeling. This aims at humanizing AI technologies, and building a proximity with the end-user, ad it is quite popular for B2C brands, such as PFM models for example. Think: James (PT), Leocare (FR), Marcus (part of Goldman Sachs), Ada (CAN), Aria (FR), MargoBank (became Memo Bank in June 2020), Fred de la Compta (FR), GwenneG (FR), HiSonia (PT), HolaLucas (SP), AskRobin (ES), Teddi (FR), Elliots (FR), etc. Before that, many insurers and banks had also used human names as product names — this reminds us of this quite old and iconic commercial about Cerise by Groupama Insurance, back in the 2000s. Betting on human names fosters the human-friendly and focuses on the reality-linked sides of tech projects. As a matter of fact, this trend is a common practice for Fintech or Insurtech startups which have a front end dedicated to Customers or SMBs.
What is interesting is that, similarly to baby names, startup names experience fashion trends. There has been a real hype for names ending with -eo or -ea in recent years, following the French names trend in the 2000s / 2010s such as Léo, Léa, Théo, Matéo — as shown by the graph below. Fintechs as Leocare, Pleo, Bdeo, Tonteo, Libeo and Budgea (BudgetInsight) are probably named after that trend.
As human names are more or less fashionable depending on times, we observe that vintage names that were common before the 80’s are more and more used by entrepreneurs. As this French article points out, the number of Rosalie, Alma, Albert or Edgar increased a lot in 2020. Fintech startups surfing on that trend are numerous: George.tech (FR), OhMyGeorge (HK), Prosper (French BlackFin-backed startup that became Epsor), Alan (FR), Seraphin (BE), Lydia (FR), Bruno (FR), Luko (FR), GoHenry (UK), Gustaf (FR, now Seyna), Cleo AI (UK), Virgil (FR), Rosaly (FR), Hedvig (SE), Billie (DE), Phileass (FR).
This is a real trend in France especifically and with a real correlation with the new born names, let’s say this trend is a powerful one for B2C or B2SMB positioning as it’s more and more familiar for the customer and gather both coolness and seriousness…
Some players even go back to Greek, Latin, Hebraic or even Egyptian mytholology:
- Helios (FR) after the Greek god of the Sun
- Cleo (UK) after the Greek muse of History
- Golem.ai (FR) after the ghetto of Praga’s monster גולם
- Amon (SP) after the Egyptian God
- Gigamesh (FR) after the Mesopotamian heroe
Other Europe-based fintech and insurtech picked brands in reference to some Historical heroes, even if somehow they can be controversial:
- NapoleonX (a conquering bitcoin startup), after the French emperor (19th century)
- the insurtech Descartes Underwriting, after the philosopher and mathematician
- Turgo, in reference to the Finance Minister under Louis XVI in France
- SatoshiPay, after the mysterious Japanese father of the bitcoins
- Jenji, in reference to Genghis Khan himself
- Guevara, after the revolutionnary leader
- Ravelin, after the military fortification technique used by 17th-century French engineer Vauban
Well most of them are French startups, are we that obsessed by (our own) History in France? :)
Veggies & Puppies
In the 2000s, many vegetable names appeared for Insurtech and Fintech startups. Maybe it embodies something “good for your health” and fun in some ways, which is especially useful for B2C positioning like Pumpkin (FR), Mangopay (FR), Leetchi (FR), Abricko (SP), Plum (UK), Lemonade (US), Kabbage (US), Goji (UK), Advocado (US), Lemonway (FR), Raisin (DE), Nutmeg (UK) and Coconut (UK). Within the insurtech space, we can think of Marmalade (UK), Brokoli (SP) or even Friss (FR), which means ‘to eat’ in German.
According to Techcrunch, having an animal name is a thing too. One of the advantages is that it easily solves the problem of finding a logo for the goodies and hoodies… While Ant Financials is going public in China, and may become the most valued fintech in the world, in the fintech jungle, there are many hippos, like MortgageHippo (US), Hippo Insurance (US), Hipoo (SP)! We can also find koalas with Koalaboox (BE), Capital Koala (FR), Bitwala (DE) and even Koala Insurance (FR). But many fintech startups are named after other animals to like Swan (FR), eToro (UK), Monkee (DE), Ulule (FR) which is the song of the owl, Beagle (FR), CashBee (FR), PensionBee (UK), FinFrog (FR). Well, it seems that the French fintech founders really like naming their startups after Mother natures’ creatures…
A lot of fintechs aim at making their users’ life easier. Hence, some of them embody this idea in their name : Happypal (FR), the Yapily (UK), the Lovys (FR-POR), and even the recently rebranded french Swile (which is the contraction of ‘Smile’ and ‘Work’). Seraphin (BE) is even named after an angel! Some fintechs, whatever the subsector, choose a name related to the sun, whose meaning, rooted in Egyptian mythology, has been associated with the idea of life and brightness for a very long time. We find examples of this with the neobank Shine (just sold to Société Générale,in June 2020), Helios (FR), and SolarisBank in Germany. Interesting to notice that the moon is also used as an iconic name : Lunar (DK), Moonfare (DE), Mooncard (FR) and the French insurtech Moonshot-Internet. Most of the time, these gentle names are used by B2C fintechs, with some exceptions.
Halfway through this study, we can already see that there is a clear trend from fintechs who seek a name that conveys a clear meaning about what they do, to the ones that look for a more symbolic name. For those fintechs, the ideas or statements they believe in are more important than their product, from a branding point of view.
3. The committed tribe
The sharing activists
First of all, the Sharing Economy trend has been very powerful in terms of names’ influence in Tech in general. For a couple of years now, startups have been using the “We” everywhere, challenging the You of Youtube or the My of Myspace. Sometimes this “We” has been turned into the French “Oui” (as in French startups like OuiShare or La Ruche qui dit Oui). Because it’s part of their message, crowdfunding platforms naturally tend to use it a lot (the French startups WeDoGood and Wiseed), but so do fintechs like WeCashUp (FR), Wezenit (FR), Wefox (DE) or WeSwap (UK).
And the Insurtech / Regtech brand names haven’t made any exceptions to these frames: Wemind, Weesee, Wefox, WeCover, WeSharebonds, … are a few examples.
Contrary to these startups that try to be as meaningful as possible, being down-to-earth or more symbolical, there is a last type of fintech that would rather play on words than to stick to an existing one.
Calling for a brand new world
Embodying a will to be ‘disruptive’, plenty of Fintech startups recently chose groundbreaking names which belong to the vocabulary of paradigm shifts, as if a different use of money could participate in building a better world. Neobanks are good examples of this utopist and ambitious trend: Revolut, Betterment, BNext, Sabbatic, AtomBank, TradeRepublic, Tomorrow or Tide for example. It was maybe why Lendix became October after all.
This revolution wave is an interesting trend for Insurtechs too, and some of them are already surfing on it like Shift Technologies, DreamQuark, or Guevara. We even surprisingly realized that a lot of fintechs were inspired by Robin Hood revolutionary imaginary, aiming at changing the game regarding wealth: the US-based Robinhood of course, but also the brand new Sherwood, the UK Redwood Bank, RobinDesBank or Robank Hood.
Fintechs have not been spared by the environmentally conscious wave. Startups such as The Green Got, Greensill, Greenly, Ecotrees or PayGreen are examples that stand for this major social trend.
4. The Scrabblers
The double vowel club
They seem to be everywhere these days. Many Insurtech startups chose a brand name with a double “o” like : Buckaroo (Dutch and BlackFin-backed), Proprioo (FR), Segguroo (a Spanish insurtech), Dacadoo (NE), TheFloow (UK-based insurtech), Valoo (FR), Woorton (FR) etc. It seems that this double “o” would come from the « object oriented » concept, inspired by Yahoo, Wanadoo and of course by Google. Indeed, from the first internet wave, many innovative companies launched branding with this double “o” to embody modernity and ambition. Some examples : Lexoo (UK), WeProov (FR), Yoonix (FR), Snoop (UK), Flooz (US), Buguroo (SP). The “oo” then turned into other double voyels like “ee” or “ii” : Retreeb (FR) , Declaree (SP), Particeep (FR), Teeneo (FR), Keetiz (FR), Contreeb (FR), Treezor (now Société Générale), Leeto (FR), Feedzai (PT), MyPangee (FR), SheeldMarket (FR), Monkee (DE), Fundee, Hipoo (SP), Tipsmeee (FR), Grisbee (FR), Yeeld (FR), Cobee (SP), Receeve (DE), and Miimosa (FR), Wizbii (FR), Tiime (FR), Pagoo (SP), Borrox (SP). And even in “aa”, with the French neobank Xaalys (FR), whose name has a meaning in Senegal.
Similarly, surfing on an exotic strategy, we discovered Adyen (NE) means “start again” in Sranan Tongo, don’t know if it’s a paradoxal bet?
Sometimes, the double “o” splits, but some trace remain, such as the O_O Club with Iroko (FR), Qonto (FR), Hokodo (UK), HokoCloud (PT), Yomoni (FR), Goteo (SP), Bokio (SE), Monzo (UK), which was initially called Mondo, or Onfido (UK). A remaining final “o” is still on the now with Likvido (DK), Divido (UK), Pretto (FR), Prazo (PT), Carbo (FR), Luko (FR), Memo (FR).
The letter shufflers
Other Fintech startups go further, valuing iconoclastic names. Their brand names are a kind of negation of the idea of branding to some extent, shuffling (random?) letters, with for example strange vowels or consonants put together like Unnax (SP), Ubble.ai (FR), Bunq (NE), Ezbob (UK), Iwoca (UK), Epsor (FR), or Tink (SE). Some of them can even embed numbers like N26 (DE), or Ten 31 (DE) pretending it was the day or the address of the holy founding momentum. Other players like Akur8 (FR), B2C2 (UK), or 11:FS (UK) seem to follow this trend of mixing numbers and letters.
The word twisters
Some fintechs like playing with the rules in their names, replacing some letters by others to distinguish themselves from the word they are made of. French fintechs seem to love playing with English words such as Elyxir, Vybe, Kard, Qard, Calqulate, Inqom, Yomoni, Kidimoni, Bevouac, Quipu, Qover, Advize, Younited Credit or Wynd. But we also find this habit elsewhere in Europe : Kreditech (DE), Qapital (SE), Akur8 (FR), Ohpen and Dyme (NL), Aryze (DK) and even Rapyd (UK).
Lastly, there has been a trend around withdrawing some letters to sound “coolr” — sorry, cooler : Lunchr (the French startup now known as Swile), or Modulr (UK), Loqr (PT), Housers (SP) are iconic examples of this trrrend.
Cherry on the cake, some of those players, such as WeProov, Billee, Receeve, Contreeb, Teeneo, Weefin or Viabill, mix several of the trends that we just had a look at. The more you mix, the funnier?
The No names
Building a brand without actually giving a s**t about trying to find something meaningful is a real trend though. These anti-brands are more and more numerous. The German B2C neobank N26, for example, seems to be a ‘lazy’ branding bet as it has been chosen because it may have been the street number of their first offices.
Zelros is a kind of a no name too as it has been chosen after an AI contest to chose a new brand for this insurtech.
Oh wait, ‘No Name’ is actually a sneaker brand VC are used to buy, like AllBirds or Caval ;) Maybe it does make sense after all?
Well, after reviewing more than 300 fintech/insurtech brands across Europe, we hope we brought to you some interesting and inspiring key trends in order to pick your own fintech brand ;) or change it to get closer to fashion trends and build an accurate branding for your company. If you need more info, you can check our list of practical tips to pick your startup name. Like all typologies, this one cannot be exhaustive… so please don’t hesitate to drop us a comment or, even better, fill this typeform, if you think of one we forgot.
It’s well known, VCs cannot predict the future. In this new era, post-covid period, what’s next for startup branding ?
- A brand with a final -x, to invoke a magic vaccine against any disease consumers or businesses could suffer from? see Unnax (SP), Arex (UK), Kantox (SP), Radix (UK), Apiax (CH), former Lendix (FR)…
- Your first offices’street number (like N26), remembering goold old times when startups had offices?
- Famous Beatles’ song names, such as Pennylane (FR) to get back to the old times when we could go to concerts?
- Chinese or Russian names ? considering Revolut’s, Lydia’s, N26’s captables, it could make sense?
- Netflix-based or gaming inspired-names, as more and more people are falling for these hobbies?
- Will the (oh so boring?) eternal 2 words-mix trend (think Spendesk, TrueLayer, Loueragile) still in the air?
- A mix of letters and numbers such as H1N1 or COVID19, catching up with the most common words of these last few weeks (think Sk3w, Akur8)
- A John Snow-ish name, for GoT fans, e.g. Bank North, Oak North, WinterMute, Lanistar, etc.
- Names that sound like all the hyped salad bars, wine bars or rooftops (20peas, Sonat, Nuba, Spok, Poni) that currently flourish around VC offices in Europe?
- … your bet?