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The Challenges of a Global FinTech

The Challenges of Global FinTech.

To become a global FinTech comes with many challenges. It’s very rare to see a Fintech operating at scale across the globe.

To become a global FinTech comes with many challenges. It’s very rare to see a FinTech operating at scale across the globe. The majority of FinTech’s have regionalised solutions to suit market needs. PayPal is a great example of a global FinTech but their solutions across geographies vary wildly compared to the services ‘Big Tech’ offers across the globe which tends to be a lot more standardised. For example, the likes of Google and Facebook have the same offerings across all of their global markets.

Being a successful global FinTech is extremely challenging. The FinTech failure rate for venture capital-backed businesses is 75%. The three biggest challenges FinTechs face in expanding globally are:

  • Regulatory Adherence
  • Local Infrastructure Nuances
  • War for Talent

Regulatory Adherence

Regulation ultimately differs across the globe and even though there are lessons and learnings which can be learnt and replicated there are many nuances in regulatory behaviour and laws which makes staying on top of varying degrees of regulatory rules hard and highly time-consuming. Often consisting of submitting complicated forms, and meetings with regulators often, whilst also dealing with expensive lawyers.

‘Big Tech’ (Apple, Facebook, Google etc) do not seem to have the scrutiny of regulatory adherence compared to FinTechs. This is mainly because FinTechs often relate to the thing people are most sensitive to; money. FinTechs have to go through rounds of approvals and vetting to get a banking license in a jurisdiction and yet would have to go through the entire process again elsewhere if looking to expand. Often FinTechs would consider this very labor-intensive and time-consuming for what could be an unrealised gain.

Testament to how important supportive regulations are to FinTech growth are two of the world’s leading FinTech hubs, London and Singapore, also known for their progressive regulatory bodies: the Financial Conduct Authority and Monetary Authority of Singapore. These regulators have put in place initiatives that foster FinTech collaboration within their hubs such as FinTech offices, accelerator programs, international agreements and sandbox environments where FinTech and Financial Institutions can ‘test’ innovations in a safe production environment with less onerous regulations. These highly progressive regulators simply do not exist in other global locations therefore the question has to be asked whether certain OKRs are possible in new locations if the regulator isn’t as supportive. This question could save Fintech millions of pounds being better spent focusing on their core market.

Local Infrastructure Nuances

Financial services traditionally was an industry that required fixed assets (for example, branches) to scale, acting as a barrier to entry to newcomers. Technological advancements now allow upstarts to run complex operations virtually. For example, neobanks operate purely on technological infrastructure. UK-based Revolut has amassed 1.5 million customers (of which 350,000 are active daily) without any kind of live customer-facing function.

Most countries have their own banking and payment rails with access not easy to come by as discussed above. You either have to build the capability to handle the local rails or find local providers who can, which can be hard and again very time-consuming in finding the right partner.

A high percentage of FinTechs were born to fix and improve gaps in the local infrastructure. Those said gaps may not be relevant in other global locations therefore reducing the relevancy of a FinTech in going global. Building new offerings just to suit a new market may be a costly exercise which could detract from their core competency of delivering to their core market first and foremost.

War for Talent

We have all seen how hard it is to retain and hire top talent even in your home market. However, doing this globally is exceptionally hard, especially if the brand resonance of a FinTech is low as it begins to scale. This can make hiring the right people hard and costly.

Having and ensuring the employee experience is consistent across the globe with different strategies is difficult. A consistent and automated onboarding process with guided digital learning platforms helps in this space, but a huge effort has to be made to ensure different geographic leaders are consistent with the culture that the home country has built to ensure continued success. 66% of decision makers say that improved employee experience translates into higher customer satisfaction highlighting the importance of hiring the right individuals and using the right technology to allow them to flourish.

We are now also seeing a huge shift in focus from key fundamental players in the financial services landscape. As far back as 2014, Citigroup Chief Executive Michael Corbat said, “In many ways, we see ourselves as a technology company with a banking licence.” Similarly, in 2017, Lloyd Blankfein, then chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, declared, “We are a technology firm.” This renewed focus on technology by big players has meant solutions offered by incumbent firms are now rivalling FinTechs whilst also meaning competition for talent has intensified.

Ten years ago, only about 50% of Financial Service leaders saw skills shortages as a threat to their growth prospects. Now it is nearly 80%! These shortages are not only creating mounting cost pressure by encouraging more job switching and raising salaries for hard-to-fill roles. They are also improving FS organisation’s ability to innovate and meet customer expectations.

This is why it’s critical that FinTechs find new, effective ways to boost the digital IQ of the workforce. The workforce needs to be comfortable with new and emerging technology and develop the skills, mindset and behaviour of innovation. A digital workforce will be better able to boost productivity, realise returns on FinTech investments, drive change and enhance customer experience.

Ultimately companies will be determined by their success by their ability to offer a consistent customer relationship no matter where they are serving customers from. While financial services firms are now all vying to improve the ease and speed of service which is now table stakes, the firms that differentiate themselves with personalisation and a superior experience will win and be more capable of global expansion. Smart use of AI, IoT and data analytics is critical in creating necessary customer insight and agility to meet the demands of the ever-evolving customer across different geographies.

FinTech firms around the globe rely on Salesforce to help them win more customers and supercharge growth. With the world’s #1 CRM platform, FinTech startups are connecting with customers and prospects in a whole new way. To learn more about how UK FinTech companies can accelerate growth and scale seamlessly with Salesforce download our free E Book ‘Unleashing FinTech’s Potential’.

Unleashing FinTech’s Potential.

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