Brex is a FinTech company offering credit cards and a spend management solution to business customers.
The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California, was founded in 2017 by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi.
Brex’s goal is to act as a trusted and long-term partner to high-growth tech startups. Essentially, Brex wants to build the de-facto financial operating system on which founders can build and scale their companies.
The firm currently serves over 10,000 companies in the United States including Airbnb, Airtable, ClassPass, DoorDash, and many others.
Those customers can access a plethora of different tools via Brex’s all-encompassing Empower software platform. Examples include:
- A business bank account that allows customers to make deposits and payments as well as earn yield on holdings
- A credit card that can be used to spend cash in the physical world all while earning cashback rewards
- Being able to track expenses on everything from Facebook Ads all the way to team dinners
- Thousands of integrations with the world’s biggest ERP and tax software providers such as Intuit’s QuickBooks, Xero, or Slack
- KPI tracking, financial modeling, and scenario planning via Brex’s Pry tool
- Access to founder-friendly loans issued by Brex itself
Brex itself is currently valued at an eye-popping $12.3 billion after its founders, which began the business at age 21, managed to raise $1.5 billion in funding.
The company makes most of its money via subscription and interchange fees. Additionally, Brex also generates revenue from interest on cash and loans as well as referral fees.
Their youth has also come back to haunt them, though. In June 2022, Brex announced that it would stop serving small and mid-size enterprise (SME) customers. However, this did not entail venture-backed startups. The confusion, as well as the suddenness of the announcement, led to a pretty hefty public backlash against the founders.
The methodology with which competitors of Brex are ranked is based on publicly available data. Information such as the funding raised or valuation, the number of customers, and everything else in between will be considered.
Brex is only available to business customers in the United States. As such, only competitors from the U.S. will be considered.
Additionally, we won’t take a look at traditional banks known to serve individual customers. Instead, this analysis only dissects competitors serving tech startups and other types of enterprises.
It has to be noted that this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of either service. It is merely a summary of the competition that Brex currently faces.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 7 competitors of Brex.
Headquarters: New York City, New York Founder(s): Eric Glyman, Gene Lee, Karim Atiyeh Year Founded: 2019
Ramp became one of the major beneficiaries of Brex’s announcement to shut down access for SMB customers. CEO and founder Glyman, in an interview with TechCrunch, stated that its SMB segment grew by 22 percent since Brex announced the closure.
Ramp prides itself on the versatility of its debit cards, for instance by being the only card on the market that can block or restrict spending to a specific vendor. The cards, furthermore, earn 1.5 percent in cashback whenever they’re used.
It needs to be noted that Ramp does not offer business bank accounts. Instead, its debit card actually acts as a charge card, meaning customers have to pay their balance in full at the end of each month.
On top of that, Ramp offers extensive expense management tooling, allowing users to set budgets, track employee spending, utilize AI-based receipt matching or automated expense categorization, and much more.
Additionally, users can pay company bills, which are automatically tracked due to Ramp’s various software integrations.
Business customers aren’t the only ones liking what they see, though. Investors have poured a total of $1.4 billion into Ramp, which is currently valued at $8.1 billion. The company, so far, has saved its customers $200 million in real cash and 3.5 million employee hours, respectively.
Source: Crunchbase, Ramp, TechCrunch
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): John Collison, Patrick Collison Year Founded: 2010
Stripe became one of the world’s highest valued private companies by developing payment rails that took the cumbersomeness out of accepting online payments. Back in September 2019, it became a competitor to Brex by unveiling its own corporate credit card.
Managers can set budgets for their team members, get access to real-time spending data, seamlessly integrate with accounting software like Xero, earn rewards from partners such as Google Ads or HubSpot, and much more.
And since Stripe has access to a company’s expense and payment data, it can also issue loans to its customers via Stripe Capital.
Additionally, Stripe allows customers to bill their clients via subscriptions, customize their checkout pages, embed financial services into your marketplace (via Stripe Treasury), verify their user’s identity, incorporate their business, and so much more.
Stripe, with over three million customers, is by far the largest service on this list. Its founders have raised $2.3 billion in funding thus far. In 2021, Stripe processed payments worth $640 billion.
Stripe has now grown to the point where it even hosts an annual developer conference, dubbed Stripe Sessions, to advance the product development on its platform.
Source: Crunchbase, Stripe
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Immad Akhund, Jason Zhang, Max Tagher Year Founded: 2017
Mercury is a full-service bank geared toward venture-backed startups and thus effectively competes for the same customers as Brex. It works together with 40,000+ companies and manages over $4 billion worth of deposits.
And just like Brex, Mercury offers the ability to track spending, issue cards for team members, receive and send payments, and receive discounts from services such as AWS, Gusto, Shipstation, and more. Both Brex and Mercury accounts are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000.
Startups can, furthermore, earn yield (up to 1.5 percent as per the time of writing) on the idle cash stored in accounts. Additionally, founders can apply for a Mercury-issued loan while leaving their cap table unaffected.
In fact, Mercury goes beyond that and even manages its own investor database that curates potential partners for any given startup. And since late 2020, Mercury has also been connecting over 270 startup founders with investors, such as Andreessen Horowitz, via its Raise program.
While Brex requires you to be a venture-backed startup, Mercury is less strict and thus accepts any U.S. company with a federal employer identification number (excluding sole proprietors, though).
Mercury has raised $152.2 million in venture funding thus far while being valued at $1.6 billion. The firm unfortunately does not disclose revenue figures.
Source: Crunchbase, Mercury
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Thejo Kote Year Founded: 2017
Airbase aims to go beyond simple spend tracking to become the backbone of modern-day finance departments. As a result, its offering extends products such as corporate credit cards, bill payments, software integrations, and spend tracking.
All of Airbase’s products are centered around its modular platform, which can be adjusted by adding new features or removing existing ones.
One of the firm’s key distinctive features is its optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which will automatically scan and populate reimbursements on the user’s behalf.
Airbase, furthermore, claims that its corporate credit card offers the highest cashback in the market (2 percent), with up to 20 times higher limits and no required guarantees or credit checks. However, it also offers integrations with American Express and Silicon Valley Bank to allow customers to keep using their existing card programs.
The company works together with thousands of customers including BlockFi, Cameo, and Getaround. Airbase’s products are aimed at businesses of all sizes. Its founders have raised a little over $250 million in funding while Airbase is valued at $600 million.
Source: Airbase, Crunchbase
Headquarters: Draper, Utah Founder(s): Alex Bean, Blake Murray, Justin Thompson Year Founded: 2016
Divvy is another free offering that makes most of its revenue via interchange fees derived from the usage of its credit card.
Much like Brex, it offers various card management options (such as assigning roles or limiting budgets), instant categorization of spending, access to cashback rewards, various accounting software integrations, bill payments, and access to a credit line of up to $15 million.
Where Divvy shines is its focus on rewards, especially travel-related ones. Customers can earn up to 7x on restaurants and 5x on hotels if payments are made on a weekly basis (vs. 2x on hotels or restaurants for monthly payments).
However, it has to be noted that Divvy doesn’t offer cash accounts, which means the cards it issues are charge cards. Moreover, and unlike Brex, its accounts are not FDIC-insured (since Divvy isn’t licensed to store cash) nor do they offer the option to earn yield.
Divvy’s product suite is largely focused on small as well as medium-sized businesses in the construction, healthcare, e-commerce, and technology space. As a result, it also offers a native app that enables founders to access all the above information on the go.
Customers are certainly not the only ones liking what Divvy has done thus far. In May 2021, Divvy was acquired by software giant Bill.com for $2.5 billion. The founders previously managed to raise $417.5 million in funding.
Source: Crunchbase, Divvy
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California Founder(s): Peter Lai, Roger Gu Year Founded: 2014
Emburse is one of the industry’s fastest-growing players – even though its founders have only raised $120,000 for the company in total.
The firm counts 12 million users across 120+ countries who work for the 18,000 customers Emburse has. Overall, it processes $65 billion worth of payments while generating $200 million in annual revenue.
Historically, Emburse has been competing against ERP players such as SAP Concur. However, since April 2022, Emburse is also a direct competitor of Brex. That month, it unveiled Emburse Spend, allowing managers to issue cards, gain insights, control spending, and more.
While the Spend product is aimed at small businesses, Emburse also offers solutions for mid-market (Certify) and enterprise (Chrome River) customers. All of those enable users to track expenses, pay bills, connect with various software providers, conduct financial audits, and much more.
Emburse itself was acquired by private equity firm K1 back in 2019. K1 then merged Emburse with Certify and Chrome River, two other companies it had previously purchased. Former Concur president Eric Friedrichsen was put in place to lead that combined entity.
Source: BusinessWire, Crunchbase, Emburse, TechCrunch
Headquarters: Paris, France Founder(s): Jordane Giuly, Rodolphe Ardant, Thibaud Elziere Year Founded: 2016
Spendesk offers its 7-in-1 spend management solution to customers across the European continent as well as the United States.
The firm issues (virtual) debit cards, allows you to scan and automatically categorize receipts, reimburse expenses, approve budgets for employees, pay invoices, be tax-law compliant, track dozens of different data points, integrate with existing accounting providers like Xero, and more.
Its software is highly customizable and thus can serve anyone from SMEs to large enterprises. Spendesk’s 4,000+ customers include companies such as Birchbox, Decathlon, and Soundcloud, among many others.
Spendesk primarily sells into finance departments, which is the reason why it hosts its own podcast (dubbed CFO Yeah!) and operates a community of over 8,000 finance leaders called CFO.Connect.
All of those features and initiatives have allowed Spendesk to amass a valuation of $1.14 billion. In total, Spendesk’s team has raised $311.8 million in venture funding from investors such as Tiger Global Management or General Atlantic.
Source: Crunchbase, Silicon Canals, Spendesk