Fintech — the use of technology to enhance financial services — has simplified peoples’ financial lives around the world. Think about how easy it is now to make peer-to-peer payments via Venmo, manage a financial portfolio with Betterment, or buy and sell stocks with Robinhood.
Fintech disruption is reflected in its predicted global market growth. In 2021, the fintech market was valued at $112.5 billion, which is projected to nearly triple by 2028 to $332.5 billion.
Fintech services are surely digital transformation disruptors. They take tasks previously left to traditional financial institutions and make them as easy as swiping a finger across a mobile banking app. However, just like their counterparts within the financial services industry, fintech companies have faced harsh realities in 2022.
In order to stay afloat during the recent economic downturn, fintechs have cut costs while trying to increase their global footprints. Also, as consumers become more dependent on digital banking, neobanks (online-only banks), and fintech apps, they expect exceptional customer support and will turn to social media to express their frustrations when they don’t get it.
So how can fintech firms leverage new technologies to thrive in a down economy and expand into new global markets and languages? Let’s take a look.
Why fintech is struggling this year
Despite the predicted global market growth, 2022 has been challenging for fintech, the financial sector, and the banking industry as a whole for a number of reasons:
Fintech consumers are losing confidence in their finances. Financial well-being scores are down and fewer consumers are investing money because of high inflation and high interest rates.
Fintech industry complaints are rising. The CFPB received 20,900 complaints last year about money transfer banking services and virtual currency companies, a 63% increase from a year earlier. Some fintech firms are improving responsiveness to customer needs, with Coinbase and Robinhood adding live phone support.
BNPL growing pains. “Buy now, pay later” is an innovative aspect of fintech. But it’s embroiled in controversy over how BNPL data, which is not reported to credit card bureaus, impacts lenders seeking to understand how much debt a borrower is carrying.
Ease of access and UX are cornerstones of fintech
These recent challenges make it even more vital that fintech companies focus on the key aspects of growing in the age of digitization: Ease of access and an exceptional user experience (UX).
Consumers now expect an intuitive and quick customer experience with fintech. Companies that don’t provide advances in user experience for websites, mobile apps, and customer support will make matters worse for themselves during a down economy.
An example of why fintech ease of access is so important: You can apply for a mortgage and get an approval in an hour without ever having to interact with anyone. This was impossible before the advent of online banking, with customers having to make endless trips to a traditional bank and fill out stacks of paperwork.
The ability to easily buy financial technology products online improves customer engagement and customer satisfaction.
But what good is an easy UX if it’s not available throughout global markets? It can be a burden for both fintech startups and established firms to scale products across multiple languages without hiring translators or relying on generic machine translation tools.
With speed, scale, and quality in mind, here’s what fintechs should consider as they expand into new global regions in a tough economy:
1. Think globally always
Try to plan for global distribution from day one with your fintech solution. It’s easy to build a process around the first language of an app, but you need to consider how the application can adapt to different content sizes and styles that come with different languages. A simple example is in the number of characters. Languages like German can take up 40% more width space on your screen than English. Others, such as Chinese, may take up as much as 20% less width space, but have taller characters that use more vertical space. If you have a restrictive design, this becomes a problem fitting German or Chinese translations.
2. Think big but start small to get it right from the start
Use common languages (English, French, Spanish) as a starter so you can adapt website and mobile app design around different languages and cultural nuances. Get common languages right first with your financial products and build on that for the more difficult translations (Simplified Chinese, Arabic). You want to avoid creating problems across different languages. Work out the challenges as early as possible and then apply the learnings to a bigger set as you expand your languages.
3. Iterate, iterate, iterate
If you’ve already established a process, look at how you iterate to get content out more quickly and reduce any lag between languages.
Release cycles are often the largest test and stress in the process, and reducing the time between each one makes the subsequent release so much more scalable. While this isn’t always possible, each iteration should focus on reducing redundancy, especially manual friction in the process (which can usually be eased if content can be released through automation).
Often, a lot of this is baked into the foundation such as developing content with internationalization in mind, thinking about dynamic UI as character counts expand, and looking at how to mitigate any critical contention points. But ultimately, embrace the iteration process as the opportunity to take every possible improvement.
4. Test, test, test
To become a truly customer-centric company you must do a lot of testing to determine what works and what doesn’t. Banking customers across markets consume content differently which will influence the user journey, customer expectations, and even the design of an app’s graphical user interface (GUI). You can’t assume that what works in one market will work in another, so be ready to perform tests in order to gauge what connects with users.
5. Go boldly into new markets
Be brave. If your fintech solution is solving real problems then it will be successful wherever in the world those problems occur. If you can enter new global markets with timely, scalable, and high-quality translations, you will improve customer retention and have a competitive advantage.
Unbabel specializes in scale, speed, and quality for translations and localization of marketing and customer support content (chatbots, emails, FAQs). We take a man-and-machine approach, using a combination of artificial intelligence-based machine learning and human language experts.
Get a demo today and see for yourself.