The finance industry is changing rapidly, and the successful disruptors are going to make a lot of money for some investors. Payments, investments, transfers, and loans are all getting cheaper and more efficient. Blockchain and other innovative tech developments are rapidly changing the way people interact financially. These three stocks are helping push the whole world forward into new behaviors and capabilities.

1. Square

Square (SQ -2.76%) is spearheading change across small business payments, cash transfers, and investing. Square initially hit the market as a hardware and software solution that allowed vendors to accept card payments in a mobile and efficient format. It's grown to be used by businesses of all sizes across a variety of industries, but it has an especially strong presence among bars, restaurants, and retailers. Over the years, its service suite has expanded to add additional value and insight for users.

Square has also successfully entered the consumer finance world with Cash App. Cash App is a direct competitor to PayPal Holdings(PYPL -1.03%) Venmo, as it allows individuals to send and receive cash. Users are also able to spend and invest their account balances. Cash App offers debit cards with a rewards system, which is rare. Investment options include a wide range of stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and cryptocurrencies. These services have proven so popular that Cash App grew rapidly to more than 30 million users, and it produces profits for Square. That's rare for a high-growth business segment, but Square is reaping the rewards of this quality service.

There's still plenty of room for Square to grow across its financial services for businesses and consumers. It's already in a great position due to its widespread adoption in different use cases, and it's actively moving into new categories. Square recently announced an agreement to purchase Afterpay for $29 billion in stock. This enhances the company's "buy now, pay later" capabilities, which applies to both its consumer and commercial offering. 

Square is becoming deeply ingrained in the saving, spending, transfer, and investing activity-both for young consumers and business owners. This user base will become more affluent over time, and the burgeoning financial powerhouse will no doubt have plans to expand into adjacent services for continued growth. There's a lot more opportunity ahead for Square, which sits at the forefront of evolving financial behaviors.

Fintech user looking at phone and credit card.

Image source: Getty Images

2. PayPal

PayPal has also cemented itself as a disruptive force in the financial sector. The company rose to prominence as one of the first successful digital payment and transfer platforms, and it increased its presence in that arena through the 2014 acquisition of Venmo. PayPal has been around for a while and isn't as cutting-edge in comparison to some of the smaller innovators in the space. Nonetheless, it still has a huge presence in the evolving world of finance, and it's shown a willingness to acquire attractive opportunities to retain its technological leadership.

PayPal processed $285 billion in payment volumes in the first quarter of 2021. That was more than 60% growth, as the company added nearly 15 million new accounts. It's simultaneously achieving monster growth numbers while being an incumbent leader in its target market, which is a rare combination.

PayPal also offers lending services and debit cards, broadening its range of financial interaction with consumers and businesses. The data generated from those activities is extremely valuable. That information, combined with the company's scale, will help PayPal retain its competitive position as financial technology continues to grow for the foreseeable future.

3. Mastercard

Mastercard (MA -0.12%) might be a surprise inclusion in this list, but it has a sneakily innovative side that complements its well-known legacy business. Like its competitor Visa, Mastercard likes to pursue partnerships and acquisitions that keep its established payment processing business fresh. Card payments have been forced to become cheaper and more efficient. That pressure isn't going anywhere as blockchain and other tech advancements are improving the ways money changes hands among consumers and businesses.

Mastercard notably acquired a company called Finicity last year, improving its capability to access and analyze banking information. That's an important step for a payment processing company that's looking to adapt to the rising number of digital and contactless payments as people move away from card payments. Many investors compared this to Visa's attempted acquisition of Stripe, which was outlawed by antitrust regulators.

Like PayPal, Mastercard has an established business that produces great cash profits. It's using those resources to position itself to thrive as payments and transfers evolve. It might not provide the same growth as Square, but it's also available at much cheaper valuations than most other disruptive fintech stocks.