Technological advances are disrupting plenty of industries. And if ever there was an industry ripe for disruption, it is financial services. Enter financial technology, or “fintech.” Along with healthcare innovation, fintech is arguably the most disruptive of the emerging themes encroaching on old school industries.
A basic definition of fintech is computer programs or other technological components intersecting with old guard financial services, such as banking, lending and credit cards, but there’s more to it.
“Today, fintech companies directly compete with banks in most areas of the financial sector to sell financial services and solutions to customers,” according to Fintech Weekly. “Mostly due to regulatory reasons and their internal structures, banks still struggle to keep up with fintech startups in terms of innovation speed. Fintechs have realized early that financial services of all kinds — including money transfer, lending, investing, payments, … — need to seamlessly integrate in the lives of the tech-savvy and sophisticated customers of today to stay relevant in a world where business and private life become increasingly digitalized.”
In other words, when you buy a fintech exchange-traded fund, there’s a better chance you’ll be embracing stocks such as PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) and Square (NYSE:SQ) then you would be traditional banks like JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM).
With that in mind, here are some of the best fintech ETFs to consider.
Global X FinTech ETF (FINX)
Expense ratio: 0.68%, or $68 annually per $10,000 invested.
Just a few weeks shy of its third birthday, the Global X FinTech ETF (NASDAQ:FINX) has rapidly become one of the kings of the fintech ETF universe. Home to nearly $414 million in assets under management, FINX tracks the Indxx Global FinTech Thematic Index.
This fintech ETF’s components come from industries including insurance, investing, fundraising and third-party lending. The financial services sector is usually thought of as a value destination, but that is not the case with fintech ETFs. FINX trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 33.
However, FINX warrants that rich multiple because it’s up just under 30% year-to-date, which is more than double the returns of the S&P 500 Financial Services Index. Importantly, there are significant growth tailwinds bolstering the long-term case for this fintech ETF.
“Currently, FinTech represents just 6%, or approximately $675 billion, of the total global estimated annual revenue for the financial services industry,” Global X said in a recent note. “In addition, a recent Global X survey of consumer adoption of disruptive technologies revealed that just 11% of consumers indicated that they use mobile wallets on at least a weekly basis, compared to 84% use of credit cards.”
ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (ARKF)
Expense ratio: 0.75%
ARK Investment Management offers a focused lineup of actively managed ETFs (and some passive funds) that address high-growth market segments and many of the firm’s products, though pricey, are among the best performers in their respective categories. The ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (NYSEARCA:ARKF), which launched in February, could be on its way to joining its stablemates as a star fund.
One of the newest fintech ETFs, ARK already has $71 million in assets under management and it has been a decent performer until recently. With riskier assets being taken to task, this fintech ETF has dropped by over 6% in the last month. That could be a buying opportunity, not a reason to stay away. The top 10 holdings in ARKF include Square, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA).
Because it’s actively managed, managers can apply more stringent criteria to defining and identifying fintech exposure.
“A company is deemed to be engaged in the theme of Fintech innovation if (i) it derives a significant portion of its revenue or market value from the theme of Fintech innovation, or (ii) it has stated its primary business to be in products and services focused on the theme of Fintech innovation,” according to ARK’s fund description for ARKF.
Amplify CrowdBureau Peer-to-Peer Lending & Crowdfunding ETF (LEND)
Expense ratio: 0.65%
The Amplify CrowdBureau Peer-to-Peer Lending & Crowdfunding ETF (NYSEARCA:LEND) is another new addition to the fintech ETF fray, having debuted in May. As its name implies, this fintech ETF emphasizes crowdfunding, an expansive and growing segment of the fintech space.
“Crowdfunding is an umbrella term generally referring to the financing method, typically internet-based, by which capital is raised through the solicitation of small individual investments or contributions from a large number of persons, entities or institutions that lend money directly or indirectly to businesses or consumers,” according to Amplify ETFs.
LEND has recently struggled because of its hefty weight in China (45% of the fintech ETF’s weight). That’s a double-edged sword because China is home to its own rapidly growing, high-potential fintech market. Another thing to note with LEND is that it’s a concentrated fintech ETF. The fund has 33 holdings, but just three combine for over half the fund’s weight.
ETFMG Prime Mobile Payments ETF (IPAY)
Expense ratio: 0.75%
The ETFMG Prime Mobile Payments ETF (NYSEARCA:IPAY) is the oldest of the fintech ETFs on the market today and the fund is aging nicely as highlighted by a year-to-date gain of more than 39%. Investors are taking note. IPAY now has nearly $830 million in assets under management thanks to year-to-date inflows of $361.1 million. IPAY holds 39 stocks and tracks the Prime Mobile Payments Index.
“The index provides a benchmark for investors interested in tracking the mobile and electronic payments industry, specifically focusing on credit card networks, payment infrastructure and software services, payment processing services, and payment solutions (such as smartcards, prepaid cards, virtual wallets),” according to ETFMG.
IPAY is a fintech ETF that’s approachable to a broad swath of investors because not only does the fund feature growth stocks, it has some large-cap value exposure via names like Dow Jones Industrial Average components American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Visa (NYSE:V).
Innovation Shares NextGen Protocol ETF (KOIN)
Expense ratio: 0.95%
Blockchain technology is one of the bedrocks of the fintech movement and the Innovation Shares NextGen Protocol ETF (NYSEARCA:KOIN), though not a dedicated fintech ETF, is one of the more compelling blockchain funds on the market.
“… KOIN seeks to give investors access to companies that may benefit from a technology that has the potential to revolutionize the way global trade is conducted, data is secured, supply chains are managed, financial instruments are cleared and contracts are recorded,” Innovation Shares says in KOIN’s fund description.
There is an element of cryptocurrency with KOIN as the fund features exposure to companies that accept digital coins as payments as well as firms that make the tools and hardware to mine assets such as bitcoin. KOIN’s other categories are solutions providers (blockchain services providers) and adopters.
KOIN’s top 10 holdings including Nvidia, Visa and Mastercard (NYSE:MA).
Global X Millennials Thematic ETF (MILN)
Expense ratio: 0.5%
The Global X Millennials Thematic ETF (NASDAQ:MILN) doesn’t jump off the screen and scream “fintech ETF,” but this demographically focused fund is in the fintech space, particularly because millennials are driving adoption of mobile payments and other elements of a cash-free society.
“Millennials’ adoption of technology has penetrated their finances,” Global X’s Pedro Palandrani wrote. “Their mobile devices have become their credit card, their wallet, and their overall bank. Take Venmo, PayPal’s mobile payment service, which is a platform that has struck a chord with Millennials by allowing them to digitally send money and make purchases. 75% of Millennials have used online or mobile payments compared to only 51% for Boomers.”
The fund holds 81 stocks of which about five can be considered dedicated fintech plays. Another 10 or so can be viewed as secondary fintech names.
SoFi Gig Economy ETF (GIGE)
Expense ratio: 0.59%
The SoFi Gig Economy ETF (NASDAQ:GIGE) is another actively managed fund with fintech exposure and a newer one at that, having debuted in May like LEND.
“… the Gig Economy reflects a transformational change in how many businesses interact with customers, and the Gig Economy theme provides exposure to a trend or developing business model through the compilation of securities from multiple sectors and geographies,” wrote ETF Trends’s Max Chen.
Obviously, GIGE is not a dedicated fintech ETF. But because it is exposed to the gig economy’s consumption end, the fund features exposure to the payment end as well. This translates to some fintech leverage.
About half a dozen of GIGE’s holdings are dedicated fintech names and roughly the same amount are larger companies with some form of mobile payment or mobile wallet business. While GIGE has struggled this month (down almost 7%), there is long-term value in the fund’s mix of fintech and online retail names.
As of this writing, Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities.