Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. They are the biggest job creators and offer a path to the American Dream. But for many, it is difficult to get the capital they need to operate and succeed. In the Great Recession, access to capital for small businesses froze, and in the aftermath, many community banks shuttered their doors and other lenders that had weathered the storm turned to more profitable avenues. For years after the financial crisis, the outlook for many small businesses was bleak. But then a new dawn of financial technology, or “fintech,” emerged.
Beginning in 2010, new fintech entrepreneurs recognized the gaps in the small business lending market and revolutionized the customer experience for small business owners. Instead of Xeroxing a pile of paperwork and waiting weeks for an answer, small businesses filled out applications online and heard back within hours, sometimes even minutes. Banks scrambled to catch up. Technology companies like Amazon, PayPal, and Square entered the market, and new possibilities for even more transformative products and services began to appear.